More than half of mothers with children aged 11 or younger have had to cut their working hours due to the expense of childcare, a charity survey has suggested.
Save the Children said their online polling found that 54% of mothers were in this position, with 40% saying they or their partner would work more if childcare was made more affordable.
The YouGov survey of 2,008 UK parents of primary school-aged children or younger found the cost of childcare affected 56% of parents who responded, with almost half (47%) saying they had turned down work because of childcare responsibilities.
Most of the parents who use paid-for childcare surveyed (73%) have either already seen a rise in fees or anticipate an increase coming this year, the charity said.
Some 16% of mothers surveyed said they would move into employment if childcare was made more affordable, while a quarter of the 204 parents surveyed who receive Universal Credit said they would move into employment if childcare was more affordable.
Save the Children is calling on the Government to introduce a grants-based scheme to cover upfront childcare costs for the first month or to expand and reform the tax-free childcare offer through an affordable hours scheme that subsidises costs for parents, including those on Universal Credit.
The charity is also calling for a guarantee of universally accessible, affordable childcare from the end of parental leave to the end of primary school.
Becca Lyon, head of child poverty at Save the Children UK, called the survey findings a “wake-up call – England’s childcare system is not working for parents, children, or providers”.
She added: “The Chancellor needs to take urgent action on childcare at next week’s Budget. A simple but effective change would be to adjust the way those on Universal Credit pay for childcare costs.
“They are currently paid upfront, with families on low incomes waiting up to a month to get support back. This system makes it impossible for many to move in to work, or traps those who do in debt.”
The Government has previously stated that it recognises the financial pressures faced by families and early years providers and has spent more than £20 billion over the past five years to support families with the cost of childcare.
Save the Children said it surveyed 1,681 parents in England, 112 in Wales, 158 in Scotland and 57 in Northern Ireland.