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Unaffordable and unavailable: Scotland’s record on childcare exposed

1 Dec 2014

A new report published by Citizens Advice Scotland exposes the worrying shortcomings in childcare provision in Scotland. In particular, it says that many CAB clients find that provision is either too expensive or simply doesn’t exist in a way that works for them.

Among the report’s findings, we have found:

  • The average annual cost of childcare in Scotland is over£5,000 for 25 hours care per week for children under the age of five. This is un-affordable for many Scottish parents who want to work but can’t meet these costs.
  • Parents in Scotland spend 27% of their household income on childcare, while the average of parent in OECD countries is just 12%.
  • Only 23% of Scotland’s Local Authorities felt that there was enough childcare for working parents in their area, compared with 54% of English Local Authorities
  • There are also wide regional variations within Scotland. Costs for part-time nursery childcare in Scotland vary as much as £3,341 between different Council areas.
  • Changes to tax credits have cut the support that is available to top up family incomes, leaving many working parents struggling to make ends meet.

Publishing the report today, Citizens Advice Scotland’s Policy Manager, Keith Dryburgh, said: 

“Childcare has become a more high-profile issue over the last couple of years, and rightly so. If we get it right, the whole Scottish economy will benefit, as well as the families directly concerned. However, the evidence from Scotland’s CAB service is clear: childcare isn’t working for far too many families in Scotland.  

“The most obvious and frequently cited problems we see are around the huge cost, which can average over £5,500 per year for 25 hours of care for a child under the age of two. But lack of availability is also a problem in many areas. This is particularly acute in rural and remote areas, but is felt across the whole country. These are the two big, preventative barriers that stop parents from getting back to work. 

“So we are calling for the Scottish government, and Local Authorities to do more to make sure that affordable childcare is available across the country. The UK government should also do more through the tax system to help ease the burdens people feel.” 

“Just as important, however,  we are also calling on employers to make sure they are offering the right employment policies to suit working families. e.g. flexible working conditions and more consideration when fixing rotas and shifts could make a huge difference to parents when arranging childcare. Many employers already do this but we urge more to follow their lead and help their staff manage this difficult situation.” 

The CAS report, Working at the Edge, is linked below. It is the latest in a series of reports we have published on the issues affecting the working poor in Scotland.  

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