Around one in three working parents with pre-school children spend more than a third of their wages on childcare, according to a TUC poll published today .

The new poll – carried out for the TUC by BritainThinks – found that many working parents with young children are spending a huge proportion of their salary on childcare.

Nearly one in five  parents with children not yet in school say that they spend between a third and half their salary on childcare. And around one in seven say that the costs take up more than half of their pay.

Across parents of all age groups, a third  say they spend more than 10% of their income on childcare. And one in five parents spend more than a third.

Black and minority ethnic (BME) and disabled working parents are particularly likely to spend more of their income on childcare bills:

One in three BME parents told the TUC that they spend more than a third of their salary on childcare, and one in eight have childcare costs of more than half their wages (compared to 16% and 6% of white workers).

And more than a third (of disabled parents say they’re spending over a third of their pay on childcare costs. Around one in sevenspend over half their salary on childcare (compared to 16% and 6% of non-disabled workers).

The union body believes this is because of discrimination in the jobs market that means BME and disabled workers are much more likely to be in low-paid jobs.

The TUC is calling on the government to come up with a long-term plan to get wages rising across the economy and is asking ministers to raise the minimum wage to at least £10 an hour immediately.

The union body also wants the government to work with unions and employers on sector-wide fair pay agreements to urgently improve living standards.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Parents are spending a massive chunk of their pay packets on childcare bills, while their wages stagnate.

“This is putting huge pressure on family budgets. We desperately need a plan to get wages rising across the economy, or too many families will have to choose between turning their heating on or putting food on the table.

“Every worker in Britain should be paid a wage they can live on – that goes up with the cost of living.

“And the government must commit to a boost in childcare funding to ensure decent affordable childcare for everyone.”

Cash boost for childcare

The TUC is also calling for an urgent cash boost for the sector – like the financial help given to transport networks – to give childcare workers better wages, and a long-term funding settlement to make sure childcare is affordable and available for families.

The union body argues that childcare is a vital part of our economic recovery. Investing in good quality, affordable childcare would support working parents and help the sector recover from the pandemic.


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