London, the city of opportunity. London, where everything is possible…if you are child free and in your 20’s. For us, working mums on average salaries, London is a hostile city where having children is becoming a luxury only the well off will be able to afford. The extortionate housing costs together with childcare costs, are forcing many talented professional women out of the workplace. It is almost impossible for working mums to work full time unless you are rich, you have a husband who earns twice your salary or you have family nearby willing to look after the children while you work. Families need subsidised, affordable childcare from as soon as maternity leave finishes so they can continue working. As it stands mums do have to make a choice between having a family or a career.Being a working mother in London is almost a privilege and a luxury.The situation for some families with under two’s is so bad that I do wonder whether childcare cuts and costs are another political weapon for social cleansing , particularly in London.
Equality when it comes to childcare is non existent regardless of everything we have achieved since the history of Women’s Rights started.
Remember Hillary Clinton famous line? “Human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights, once and for all”. Where are our rights when it comes to childcare? Why do we have to pay extortionate prices to put our children in nursery to be able to work? Childcare is not a luxury bag , it is a necessity.
The UK is one of the most expensive countries in the developed world for childcare and something must be done soon to change once and for all the fact that women have to choose either to work or to look after their children. For many, going back to work just doesn’t pay off . This is not only forcing women out of the workplace, it is also pushing women to delay motherhood till quite late in their reproductive years.
Childcare needs to be more flexible as well as more affordable, with more choice over the hours that are available to families. A part time nursery in London is around £85O pcm for three days a week and £1200 full time. Shift workers such as NHS nurses, doctors, restaurant staff, retail workers, police women, etc do have a difficult choice as nurseries are not even compatible with their work schedule and nurseries work on an 8am-6pm basis. Finding a nursery open past this time is almost impossible, as a result many parents have to pay extra money to hire a nanny.For many, this is an expense they cannot afford. Analysis shows that the cost of childcare for under 2’s in the UK has risen up to seven times faster than wages since 2008.
But are the nurseries so great that we can justify the childcare costs? Not so, as a new mum who has just returned to work after maternity leave, I have visited a few nurseries in North London where I live and one in Central London where I work. The one is Central London, is considered one of the top nurseries in the country. However , I wasn’t impressed one bit.For example, regarding diet meals such as Spaghetti Bolognese, Indian Style chicken, baked beans, sweet potato frittatas, were included in their weekly menu. In other words, food a baby or a young child should not be eating. No white fish, no soups, no steamed vegetables, no nothing of the good food that will kick-start the love affair of children with food for the rest of their life. That food will make their stomachs upset with all the sauces and condiments that they add. Still it will cost me £1200 to put my baby there full time.
Life with a baby is about enjoying yourself and enjoying the baby, a happy mum makes for a happy child but a stressed out mum worried about making ends meet may not be the best version of herself. If we compare the UK with the rest of Europe, we are in disadvantage. In Spain, for a bilingual nursery with a diet that includes white fish, white meat, seasonal fruits and vegetables on a weekly basis, families pay €400 , in Austria €450, in London , a whooping £1,200. There is something not right in that. This situation is even worse for single parents.
The situation sucks. It’s not that women don’t want to go back to work, it’s more that work has to be worth it.
I know mothers who have only been able to return to work simply because they are rich enough. I also know other mothers who haven’t gone back to work because they can’t afford it. When you don’t have the option of being able to pay nursery fees, or you don’t have the support of family close by to help with childcare, working becomes an expense difficult to afford. However, this is not a luxury item we are talking about, this is something as universal and necessary as childcare. I believe that childcare costs should became a key issue in The House of Commons debates and it would be nice to see more MP’s who are women and working mums themselves supporting us. Men MP’s are welcome to so so but so far, little has been achieved, otherwise I wouldn’t meet so many mums complaining about the issue. This is a problem with no easy solution but so is Brexit which seems to be taking all the time in the world from our policy makers.
As I return to work, I’m in a situation where I pretty much feel I’m paying for the privilege of work.
Let’s stand together Working Mums!.Let’s all united bring childcare costs down. Together we are stronger, the time to start doing something is right now!
For mums struggling to make ends meet not only with childcare costs but also with housing, please check this link as it has useful info on how to help you, particularly if you are a single parent. There is also a new HMRC Talk website with very useful info not only on family issues but other major social issues that concern us all such as pensions, employment, community.