Alex works 20 hours a week – her husband works full time and her parents help with care for their two preschool children.
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Yet their bill for nursery childcare is still too high.
“Currently the children are in nursery two days a week, they have a week with their grandparents – but that costs us more than our mortgage at the moment – if it wasn’t for grandparents taking them on I don’t know what I would do.”
Her situation isn’t unusual.
A new report has found that nearly half of poor families in the UK have cut back on food to afford childcare.
Six in 10 said most, if not all, of one salary went to childcare costs and a quarter of parents said nursery or childminding fees had put them into debt.
Many hard-pressed parents are finding that it makes more financial sense to give up work and go on benefits.
Gareth Jenkins from the children’s campaign charity, Save the Children, says the recent withdrawal of Government funding for low-income families has been devastating.
“Of those low-income families that have been affected by that cut by the government about 40% have told us that they are thinking of giving up work because of the change to their benefits.”
Opposition minister, Yvette Cooper, says working mums in particular were affected.
“I think the government is wrong to ignore the growing crisis in childcare – they are cutting childcare places and sure starts and also seeing support cut, as well, at a time when costs are going up, putting huge pressure on families.”
Children’s charities want the government to increase the amount spent on childcare support to stop low-income families being forced into poverty.
But with tough austerity measures in place, that’s not looking likely.
Bottom line: UK parents qualified for low-income jobs are turning down work offers or quitting the workplace as the cost of child care becomes unaffordable.