Almost half of full-time mothers 'do not understand Government's £6bn programme to help with childcare costs'

Social mobility watchdog calls for greater effort to enable parents find a way through 'maze' of different schemes

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The Independent Online

Almost half of first time mothers do not know about or understand the Government’s £6bn programme to help parents with childcare costs, according to a survey.

The social mobility watchdog, which commissioned the poll, called for a much greater effort to enable parents find a way through the “maze” of six different schemes. The survey of 1,000 parents revealed that almost 50 per cent of first-time mums either do not know that the Government offers cash help with childcare or know there is help, but not how to get it or how much it would save them.  It also showed that 57 per cent of working class parents and 40 per cent of middle class parents would have liked to work more hours, but their perception of childcare costs was a deterrent. 

Alan Milburn, who chairs the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, said:  “Hard-pressed parents, at one of the most stressful times of their life, are struggling to make sense of the childcare funding maze.  Too many simply cannot work out what help is available.  The way childcare is being funded is a confusion piled on a muddle piled on a mess.  Without urgent simplification, there is a real risk that the Government’s noble aims to close the gender pay gap and boost maternal employment will simply not be realised.” 

On 2 March, David Cameron rejected criticism of the strategy, insisting it is on track. He said the number of “free” hours for working parents would rise from 10 in 2010 to 30 by next year.