The rising cost of living means that many mothers have to return to work much sooner than those of previous generations. In turn this means that childcare has become a fast growing industry and rates of nurseries and childminders have increased swallowing up around a quarter of a families income.
Sure Start Nurseries give parents the opportunity for a subsidised facility relieving the stress of high childcare bills. This article from The Telegraph and Argus about the loss of funding in Bradford just highlights to me how important Sure Start is.
A similar problem is happening in Brighton with the possible closure of Bright Start and a group of parents here are looking at ways to run the nursery themselves in an attempt to keep the nursery they love as well as keep the costs down. I am hoping that a collective like this will be the way forward.
I returned to work in 2010 when my daughter was 7.5 months old. Financially we couldn’t afford to live on Statutory Maternity Pay for any longer, savings depleted and our nursery asked for a month in advance. Going back to work for 4 days a week means that we are £50 a month better off, if I went back for 5 days that would add a measly £12 a month. Our salaries are enough to pay the bills but with our nursery coming to more than our mortgage payments it does make me a bit cold.
With tax credits lowering from 80% contribution for low income families to 70% shortly it does make me wonder how many parents will be able to afford to live in a time where VAT has risen, debt has risen and the chances of owning your own home become a distant dream. Sure Start is really important for these parents – they want to work and provide for their children.
Sure Start is not just for childcare. Breastfeeding support is very widely needed, health and educational advice as well as a variety of parent and baby groups. If the funding goes from much needed childcare subsidies first it does leave me questioning where next? And when it does go are we encouraging a debtors society where people are priced out of jobs and out of enjoying life just to live.