Press Release


PARENTS THINK HIGHER EARNERS SHOULD NOT QUALIFY FOR CHILDCARE SUPPORT FINDS NEW POLL

Press release from the Resolution Foundation 

EMBARGOED 00:01 SUNDAY 22 SEPTEMBER

PARENTS THINK HIGHER EARNERS SHOULD NOT QUALIFY FOR CHILDCARE SUPPORT FINDS NEW POLL

Most parents think that only families with an annual income below £75,000 should get government help with their childcare costs a new poll reveals. A third of those questioned for the Resolution Foundation poll conducted by Mumsnet feel help should be reserved for those with incomes below £50,000.

The finding is at odds with current government proposals to offer support, through a system of vouchers, to parents earning up to £300,000 a year. However a large minority, almost one in five (19 per cent) of those questioned for the Resolution Foundation/Mumsnet poll think that help with childcare should be available to all – irrespective of their income.

Respondents were given a series of income bands and asked at which point childcare support should be cut off. The most popular choice was £50,000 a year (picked by 25 per cent) which combined with those who chose a lower figures (6 per cent who said £30,000, 2 per cent for £25,000 and 3 per cent lower than £25,000) means that more than one in three (36 per cent) opted for below £50,000.

The second most popular choice was £75,000, chosen by one in five (21 per cent) of respondents, while almost one in six (13 per cent) chose £100,000. Above that level, 4 per cent said £150,000 should be the cut-off and 2 per cent said £300,000 while 6 per cent did not know where the limit should fall.

Families say they are also under growing pressure to pay for childcare. Almost half (47 per cent) of families who pay for their childcare say they’ve found it harder to meet the costs in the past year. Over four in ten (44 per cent) say their ability to pay has stayed about the same and only one in 10 (10 per cent) say that meeting the cost has become easier in the past year.

Yet political parties are seen as offering little help. Asked which of the parties has the best ideas for managing childcare, 4 in 10 (42 per cent) said “none of them” and almost as many (38 per cent) answered “don’t know”. Only 11 per cent named Labour, and 4 per cent both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats as having the best ideas on childcare.

The poll also shows that people are broadly divided over the best way to fund childcare, with substantial support for different models. While half (50 per cent) favour a system of childcare subsidy that gives support to parents through vouchers or tax credits – the government’s proposed method - more than one in three (36 per cent), prefer a system where resources go to childcare providers allowing them to offer free or subsidised places. And six in 10 parents (59 per cent) think a system where resources go to childcare providers, but with a cap so that better-off parents are asked to pay something extra, would be an improvement on the current system (against 22 per cent who disagree with 19 per cent who don’t know).

The poll’s other findings include:

· Half of parents (50 per cent) feel that childcare for primary school age children is too low a political priority. Almost as many (47 per cent) feel childcare for pre-school children is given too low a priority and four in ten (39 per cent) think the same is true of childcare for secondary age children

· One in six parents (16 per cent) say they’re not able to access all the childcare help they are entitled to. Among those, the most common single reason given (by one in five – 19 per cent) is that they don’t know what support is available

· One in three parents (34 per cent) say they use grandparents to provide some or all of their childcare. A private day nursery (23 per cent) is the next most common arrangement, followed by after-school or breakfast clubs (21 per cent)

The government’s current proposal is to offer extra childcare support in two parts – a voucher allowing parents to claim up to £1,200 towards the costs of childcare and, an increased payment for poorer families who qualify for universal credit provided that every parent earns enough to pay income tax. This means that many poorer families, where one or more parents earns below that threshold, will not be eligible for the full level of support.

Vidhya Alakeson, deputy chief executive of the Resolution Foundation, said: “The government is planning to spend more than £1 billion a year helping families with the costs of childcare, which is very welcome. But as this poll shows, many people feel this support should be targeted at less well-off households – and these are often the people who struggle most with the costs of childcare. By tilting some of the expenditure away from the better-off, the government could ensure that every family for whom childcare is a potential barrier to work gets the help they need.”

Justine Roberts, founder and chief executive of Mumsnet, said: “The truth is the cost of childcare is still a huge issue. There have been loads of suggested policies but so far it seems like a lot of talk and little in the way of tangible support."

The Mumsnet/Resolution Foundation polling is published ahead of joint events on childcare being held at the Labour Party conference in Brighton, and featuring Labour Minister Yvette Cooper, and at the Conservative conference in Manchester, featuring Amber Rudd MP. The childcare minister, Elizabeth Truss MP, is also giving a speech at the Resolution Foundation on Thursday 26 September at which she will set out the government’s vision for childcare.

ENDS

For more information contact:

Vidhya Alakeson (deputy chief executive) 020 3372 2953 or 07929 157987 vidhya.alakeson@resolutionfoundation.org

Warwick Smith (head of communications) 020 3372 2959 or 07443 042722 warwick.smith@resolutionfoundation.org

Joe Coward (communications officer) 020 3372 2955 or 07792 154707 joe.coward@resolutionfoundation.org

Notes

1. The government proposal, on which it is currently consulting is to spend an extra £1 billion a year on two different types of childcare support:

· A tax free childcare voucher allowing parents to claim up to £1,200 towards the cost of looking after a child

· An increased payment to families who qualify for universal credit, and earn enough to pay income tax, which will cover up to 85 per cent of their childcare costs (rather than the current 70 per cent)

Parents will be eligible for only one of the schemes. Vouchers will be available for better-off families who do not qualify for universal credit, provided all parents are working and no one earns more than £150,000 a year.

The voucher scheme, or “tax free childcare” as the government calls it, will be introduced for children under 5 by 2015 – and extended to all under 12s by 2020. The universal credit payment will be introduced from 2016, replacing childcare support paid through tax credits.

2. Polling was conducted online between 12 and 16 September with 1,358 Mumsnet users, who have at least one child. The data is not weighted