Childcare campaign: Childcare equals better employees

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The Independent Online
NEARLY half of working parents feel their ability to do their jobs improved by using childcare, according to a survey.

The evaluation of the Out Of School Childcare Initiative showed that 47 per cent of parents felt they had benefited because of the childcare they used.

Last week, The Independent launched its campaign for a tax allowances for working mothers, calling on the Chancellor to take action as affordable, high-quality childcare is the major barrier preventing women from returning to work.

Four out of five non-working mothers said that they would go out to work if they had the childcare of their choice, says the British Social Attitudes Survey. Yet many women feel that they cannot return to work after giving birth because they cannot afford it. The Daycare Trust calculates those who do pay for care are paying on average pounds 6,000 a year - more than for food or housing.

However, the benefits of childcare for families and the state are well documented. Nearly a third of the children in the UK live in poor households according to a report by Eurostat last year, more than in any other European country.

Social security budgets have risen inexorably to support the jobless, lone parent families and the low waged, says the Daycare Trust. Carefully targeted subsidies will help families move from benefits to work, providing social security savings.

"Women who bear children face an immediate loss of income and benefits that disadvantage them in terms of pay, living standards, pensions and job mobility," says Colette Kelleher of the Daycare Trust. "Fifty-six per cent of women entrepreneurs said easier access to childcare would be the greatest benefit to help women launch their own business."

Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology at UMIST, says: "Some women feel they have to go back to work for their careers. Other women feel that by going back they are getting away from the pressures of being with children all the time and the status of having a good job will have a better effect on their parenting.

"They are also keeping in touch with their work and they feel it gives balance to their life. The problem is that we have the longest working hours in Europe, with 40 per cent of managers working at the weekend. If women go back working full time they may not be going back to nine to five but [to] far longer hours."

Letters, page 16

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