Childcare is absolutely essential for any parent with young children who doesn’t want to put their career on hold. Without it, parents in Weston or anywhere else find themselves trapped under a glass ceiling where they can’t work a few extra hours to improve their pay, apply for promotions, or switch to a new job that works better with their caring responsibilities.
The problem is that our childcare is some of the least-affordable in the developed world. And in spite of lorryloads of initiatives by successive Governments over decades, it’s still far too dear for lots of families. So I’ve teamed up with The Social Market Foundation think tank and Labour MP, Siobhain McDonagh, to launch a Commission to uncover the impact poor provisions of childcare is having on wages and poverty.
What we’ve found so far is pretty shocking. It turns out that many working mums miss out on almost £70k in lost earnings over the first nine years of their child’s life. Multiply that across Weston and the West Country, and then the rest of the UK too, and it adds up to huge amounts of missed opportunities and life chances. And it means tens of thousands of working families are earning less than they could or should, at a time when the cost of living is shooting upwards every day.
So our Commission is trying to find a way to shatter those glass ceilings, put employment within reach for many more people (particularly single parents and working women), reduce gender pay gaps, and give employers a bigger, better pool of talent too. It won’t just help local residents in Weston and nearby villages, but everywhere else in the UK as well. I’ll report back to Mercury readers with what we find!