Well that’s clumsy.
At 3.36am today, yes International Women’s Day, tens of thousands of women who have asked the government to review the UK’s sky-high childcare costs have been told their claims have been rejected.
A petition calling for an independent review of childcare funding and accessibility has garnered 113,713 signatures, the majority of them women, and sparked a debate on childcare in parliament.
Those who had signed the petition were told the government had no plans to review the cost and availability of childcare in an email from the Petitions Committee, which published the response of the government to its report on the continued impact of covid-19 on new parents.
In September last year, a survey shared with the Guardian found that 96 per cent of over 20,000 working parents said ministers were not doing enough to support parents with the cost and availability of childcare of children, while 97% said childcare in the UK was too expensive.
The survey found that low-income parents and those on Universal Credit used food banks because of high childcare costs.
The Petitions Committee said the government’s response also ‘does not commit’ dedicated catch-up funding to address the backlog in parental mental health and medical visitation services and ‘reiterates the government’s commitment , originally given in its response to the commission’s first report on this issue, to strengthen layoff protections for new mothers and pregnant women, but again, it does not set a timetable for doing so.
The government said it had announced £500m in the Autumn 2021 spending review for early years services, including mental health services for new parents. He added that: ‘Duty-free childcare is a great deal for working parents.’
In its response to the committee, the Department for Education said the need for a review had been debated on two occasions and that although the government “recognized the need for ongoing collaboration and discussion on the matter”, it was “collectively concluded that a formal review is not necessary”. .
Joeli Brearley, founder of Pregnant Then Screwed, said:
It is quite amazing that the government has chosen International Women’s Day to send an email to the 114,000 women who have signed our petition calling for affordable childcare, to say that they will not lead independent review of the child care sector.
Affordable childcare is an essential part of gender equality. Without it, hundreds of thousands of mothers are forced out of their jobs, while 84% say the cost of childcare has negatively impacted their ability to progress in their careers.
Women do the majority of the unpaid care work that keeps our society going and allows men to advance in their careers. This work saves our economy billions of pounds.
It is a huge kick in the teeth to hear that the government expects us to continue doing this work for free and will not invest more in the vital social infrastructure that is our sector. of childcare. We will never have gender equality until women can afford to go to work. Happy International Women’s Day to you too!
Kizzy Gardiner, who became the UK’s first deputy MP when she covered Stella Creasy, said she learned the news while having a 3am feed with her baby. She says:
Waking up at 3 a.m. to feed a baby is exhausting. Waking up at 3am on IWD to an email from the government saying they don’t do independent child care reviews is absolutely infuriating.
Childcare costs are overwhelming. Getting that from the government says a lot about how little it values working families.
According to data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the UK has the third most expensive childcare system in the world, behind Slovakia and Switzerland; a full-time place costs an average of £12,376 per year.
An analysis published Tuesday by Scottish Widows found that women retiring after 65 will save half as much money as men. Absences from work and part-time work mean that a woman will have to work 37 years longer to receive the same pension as a man.