Childcare campaign: Case study: 'We have to forget holidays and presents'

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The Independent Online
JANET Peynardo is a single parent who has gone back to work, part-time, 20 hours a week, writes Glenda Cooper. Two hours a day travelling time to and from work pushes her childcare bill up to pounds 260 a month.

"I live in north London but I work in Knightsbridge and so I have to allow an hour both ways," she says. "I'm looking at paying pounds 60 a week, which is a lot of money when you're only working part-time."

Janet's take-home pay is pounds 800, which she says is "very reasonable", and she gets pounds 155 in Family Credit. On top of childcare each month she has to pay pounds 70 for travel plus rent of nearly pounds 200. It doesn't leave much for her and her daughter Kyra.

"To be honest I don't resent paying for childcare ... but the problem is that I can't take on any more work because it just wouldn't be worthwhile. If I took on any more hours I wouldn't get any help and I couldn't afford the childcare. I'm struggling as it is and we're just about managing but it means that we have to forget about things like Christmas or holidays. Kyra is just over a year old now. It was a very hard decision to go back to work but when you're on your own you have to. Otherwise where's the money going to come from? At least this way I do get to spend some time with her. I can get her up and give her her breakfast so I know whatever happens she won't starve, she'll have a good meal inside her and then when I get home there's a bit of time before bed.

"I'd like to see more help increasing the threshhold for childcare. And it's just so complicated. You just don't get the benefit. I think there must be a lot of people in my position who would like to go back to work but when they look at the costs of childcare, of travel, they just think that it will be too expensive.

"I am 34 now. I worked for 17 years putting money into the system and I don't think I'm getting anything out of it."