Childcare provision is unsuitable for the modern labour market, finds research

Detailed analysis by Citizens Advice reveals that parents on low incomes or with unstable working hours are forced to rely on poorer quality childcare providers. The rise in self-employment and jobs with irregular hours means working parents will increasingly depend on flexible childcare. However the charity’s research shows those childcare providers most likely to offer variable hours have poorer Ofsted ratings and so will be of lower quality.

The charity warns that despite strong financial help for parents from government, practical problems like a lack of flexibility and no evening availability are likely to “continue to be a barrier to parents” who want to work, with 41 per cent of the charity’s clients saying the cost of childcare prevents them or their partner from increasing working hours or accepting a job.

Ministers will be particularly concerned that more than half of childminders, the childcare option best suited to those working flexible hours, did not offer parents the option of claiming the fifteen hours of support recently extended by the coalition.

The return to economic growth has been accompanied by a steep increase in the number of people in self-employment, with 4.5 million people now working for themselves. Citizens Advice warned that whilst rising employment levels are welcome, the emerging trends in the labour market are “at odds” with services offered by childcare providers.

Read more on the Citizens Advice website.