Half of single parents forced to borrow money to pay for childcare, claims report

47 per cent already have to borrow money from friends, family or banks

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The Independent Online

Almost half of all single parents have borrowed money in the last two years to cover the cost of childcare, research by the charity Gingerbread has found.

For many lone mothers and fathers, further hours at work will not pay even when new child care subsidies come in with Universal Credit. The findings further undermine Government claims that the policy will solve the problem of making work pay.

Although low-income parents will be able to claim up to 85 per cent of costs under Universal Credit, this will still be capped at a limit which has remained unchanged since 2005: £175 for one child and £300 a week for two or more children. Since then the average cost for a part-time nursery place has increased by around 70 per cent.

Single parents facing very high childcare costs, such as those living in London and the south-east, will actually be worse off if they move from part-time to full-time work.

Amongst lone mothers and fathers, 47 per cent already have to borrow money from friends, family or banks to cover the high fees needed to pay for their children’s care.

Gingerbread chief executive, Fiona Weir, said: “Childcare costs are putting single parent families under severe financial strain. Childcare just isn’t affordable for many and it is very worrying that single parents are having to turn to friends and family banks and credit cards to try and cover costs.

“We welcome government plans to increase the amount of support available – but the cap on costs means too many single parents will see little benefit. The government must honour its commitment to make work pay and swiftly bring in extra financial support – parents can’t afford to wait any longer.”

A government spokeswoman said: “We are doing more than any other government to tackle the cost of childcare, with a record amount of money going to support the youngest children.

“After 12 years of consistently rising childcare prices, costs are stabilising in England and even falling for some types. All three and four year olds now receive 15 hours of free childcare a week, and we have extended this to around forty per cent of two year olds from disadvantaged backgrounds. We are also introducing tax free childcare, which will give almost two million families the opportunity to receive up to £2,000 of support per child, and from 2016 for working families on the lowest incomes, up to 85 per cent of their childcare costs will be met.”

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