Boris Johnson, Mothers Will Be Left Behind Without Investment In Childcare

Sam Smethers

Dear Prime Minister,

We were encouraged by your remarks at the Liaison Committee on 27 May where you acknowledged that female workers have been harder hit by the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis. In particular, with reference to additional assistance to the childcare sector, you said you would do “whatever it takes to help get women back into work” and that “childcare is absolutely critical for the success of our economy”.

You are absolutely right to recognise the severe impact this crisis has already had on female employment. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has found that mothers in couple families are one and half times more likely than fathers to have lost or quit their jobs since the crisis began. They are also more likely to have been furloughed and are now nine percentage points less likely to be working for pay. Mothers are also taking on a significantly larger share of unpaid work in the home, even when they are also trying to juggle this with paid work. The picture will be worse for single parents.

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It is estimated that a significant proportion of childcare providers will go to the wall with a loss of 10,000 businesses or 150,000 childcare places. Over 90% of staff working in the childcare sector are women. Because of the unequal impact of caring roles, this catastrophic loss of childcare provision will result in fewer mothers being able to return to work. One of the successes of recent years has been the fact that at 75%, rates of maternal employment were higher than they have ever been before, up from 66% in 2000. But this progress has now been reversed and it is our view that maternal employment will not recover to pre-crisis levels without a significant and strategic investment in our childcare infrastructure. The economic...

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