Returning to school blues for parents struggling with the childcare costs.
A new nationwide survey, commissioned by leading childcare voucher provider Co-operative Employee Benefits, has revealed that a staggering three quarters of parents are struggling to find affordable childcare in the UK.
With the new school year looming, parents are once again looking for childcare options that will cater to their working needs. Out of the 2,000 working parents polled, 62 per cent said that they had to make financial sacrifices in order to pay for childcare, whilst only 40 per cent actually used childcare vouchers to help with mounting costs.
With just over half (55 per cent) of respondents having children aged between four and eleven, the survey showed a clear need for childcare options for before and after normal school hours. Of those that used childcare vouchers, the top-two childcare options for children of school-going age were child minders and wrap around care schemes, including breakfast clubs and afterschool programmes.
However the soaring costs of childcare combined with an unsta
ble economic environment has resulted in survey goers who are not using childcare vouchers to rely heavily on family and friends to look after their children during working hours. The survey revealed that 33 per cent of employers are yet to make childcare vouchers available to staff; if they did then 22 per cent of parents asked said that they would take up the vouchers scheme.
The survey, which was carried out to identify issues facing mothers and fathers when making childcare arrangements, highlights a lack of awareness surrounding childcare vouchers and their benefits. 45 per cent of parents surveyed were unaware of the scheme, which could possibly save them hundreds of pounds a year on childcare. The initiative, which is supported by the government, allows tax payers to pay for childcare from their pre-tax income.
Tracy Wilson, Group Operations Manager for Co-Operative Employee Benefits explained: “These vouchers provide an alternative way to pay for childcare and can make a significant difference to the family budget, especially at a time when finances are under strain.
“With salaries failing to keep pace with inflation and household bills rising, parents need to take advantage of the different benefits available to them and these vouchers are an excellent way to save money and fund childcare arrangements.
“Any employee with parental responsibility for a qualifying child can claim childcare vouchers, to pay for registered childcare. Most childcare providers are registered, including wrap around care schemes, childminders, nurseries and holiday play schemes. For an extensive list of FAQs, you can visit www.employeebenefits.coop .”
To take advantage of the scheme, working parents need to apply for the vouchers via their employer. Employers can also find out more information about childcare vouchers by visiting www.employeebenefits.coop.
Co-operative Employee Benefits, which is part of The Midcounties Co-operative, is a leading ethical business which re-invest profits into local projects and charities.