One in four parents in the UK are being forced to give up their jobs or drop out of education due to increasing costs, a new study has revealed.
A global children’s charity, Theirworld questioned more than 7,000 parents and carers from the UK , Brazil, India, Netherlands, Nigeria, Turkey and the US with children under the age of seven.
The study found that 23% of UK-based parents has either quit work or dropped out of their studies to avoid the soaring childcare costs, compared to 17% of their counterparts in Brazil, 16% in Turkey and 13% in Nigeria.
Some 74% of parents in the UK said they find it difficult to meet childcare costs, compared with 52% in India, 57% in the Netherlands, 59% in Nigeria, 68% in the US and Brazil, and 72% in Turkey.
Theirworld chairwoman Sarah Brown is calling on governments to urgently prioritise spending on the early years.
The survey has “laid bare the scale of the global early years crisis and its impact on children in rich and poor countries alike” and change is needed because “early years childcare is as essential to a country’s infrastructure as roads, hospitals and telecommunications”, Brown said.
Sixty-five percent of UK parents questioned said they have had to make major financial changes, including taking on more work and spending less on food, in order to afford childcare.
Some 22% said they spend between 30% and 70% of their income on childcare.
Theirworld said children from wealthier and educated backgrounds tend to begin primary school ready to learn, but there are nearly 250 million children in low- and middle-income countries who are at risk of not reaching their full development potential due to poverty, inadequate nutrition, exposure to stress, and a lack of early stimulation and learning.
The charity noted that Chancellor Jeremy Hunt made childcare a central part of his Budget, providing an extra £4 billion over three years.