Single parents are set to lose out under changes to extended childcare hours for three and four year-olds in the Government’s amended Childcare Bill. According to experts, this could mean a reduction in the number of potential candidates for positions, as single parents are forced out of the workplace by the cost of childcare.
As part of the Conservative Government’s recent manifesto, the party pledged that working families would have access to up to 30 hours of free childcare (an extension to the universal 15 hours) for children aged three or four.
However, with a tightening of the eligibility criteria in recent changes within the proposed Childcare Bill, it may be that tens of thousands of single parent families will not be able to access these hours.
This is bad news for employers too, who may well find that the right people are not applying for vacancies. This may be particularly true for single parents who feel that they are no longer able to apply for positions that they would have considered, had the eligibility criteria remained the same.
As it stood, families would have needed to work a minimum of eight hours in order to qualify, however this is now to increase to 16 hours. According to Gingerbread, the UK’s charity for single parent families, if this were to be implemented right now, it would mean that 20,000 families with pre-school children aged four or three would simply miss out.
In an article penned for the Huffington Post, the Director of Policy at Gingerbread, Dalia Ben-Galim fully outlines why and how this could mean that extended childcare hours won’t be there to help those who need it most; namely single parent families.
Ben Galim claims that many single parents will find this to be yet another hurdle to finding work and believes that it goes against the Government’s stated policy of ‘making work pay’.
With the cost of child-minders and babysitters such a huge outlay for single parent families, for many parents of pre-schoolers it simply makes more sense not to work. Under the initial proposal, many of these families were looking forward to the opportunity to work more hours, train, gain skills and apply for better jobs.
The charity is calling for single parent families to be exempt from fulfilling the criteria of working 16 hours per week. Gingerbread also wants single parents who are training or up-skilling to be able to access the extended child care hours.
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