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Charity: Political parties 'need to invest in families'

All three main political parties "need to invest in families" as they are the UK's most valuable asset, a children's charity has warned.

Anne Longfield, 4Children's chief executive, said the family vote would be "key" in the 2015 general election and called on MPs to improve childcare.

All the main political parties know that the family vote will be key at the ballot box next year.

With half of people calling for more support for children and families, it is clear that the scale of ambition needs to radically change.

Families are looking to all the parties to set out what they will do to make Britain great for children and families.

It is time for a real shift of ambition to give children and families the support they need to flourish. Families are our country's most valuable asset and political parties need to invest in them.

– Anne Longfield

Family life 'harder than ever' say almost half of Britons

Almost half of Britons feel family life has become harder over the last 30 years, a YouGov poll for a children's charity has found.

Almost half of parents feared their child's future would be worse than their own. Credit: PA

Some 46% said family life was harder in 2014 than it was three decades ago, according to charity 4Children.

Even more parents (49%) wanted the Government to do more to help them balance the demands of work and raising children in the 21st century.

Whichever party wins next year's general election should open schools from 8am to 6pm to help struggling parents cope, 4Children said.

They also wanted to see free childcare extended to 25 hours a week for all children aged between one and four by 2024, and for Sure Start to be turned into "children and family community hubs".

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Balancing work and childcare 'is a juggling act'

Parents of a five-year-old girl starting full time education said balancing earning money with wrap around childcare was "a juggling act".

Barry Woodham and partner Emma Harrington told Good Morning Britain they have been forced to hire a childminder to care for their daughter Ruby when she enters full-time education in October.

Half of employers 'help parents with childcare'

Some 51% of parents struggling to find childcare said their employer was helping out by allowing them to work flexibly, a poll has found.

Research carried out by charity 4Children found:

  • 53% of parents were allowed to work fewer hours to meet the demands of childcare.
  • 33% of parents work from home some of the time.
  • However, 27% had not received any assistance from their employer.

Parents struggling with childcare 'consider leaving job'

Almost half of parents struggling to find childcare ahead of the new school year have considered leaving their jobs to look after their little ones, a study has found.

The charity called fore more primary schools to provide after and pre-school care. Credit: PA

An investigation carried out by a children's charity found single and young parents were struggling the most.

Some 61% of single parents and 63% of parents aged between 18-34 who had been unable to organise the childcare they need were considering giving up their job, said 4Children.

The survey of 500 parents with children of primary school age also revealed the need for schools to help provide care - 87% of parents whose child's school did not have an after school club wanted one.

Parents: 'Your kids are your responsibility'

A group of parents agreed they would not leave their young children unsupervised during their school holidays if they were unable to find suitable care for them.

Good Morning Britain spoke to parents dropping their children off at a school holiday club and found all of them would not leave their youngsters to look after themselves while they went off to work.

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One quarter of parents 'quit job to care for child'

Some 25% of parents told a Good Morning Britain and OnePoll survey they had given up work to care for their child because they were unable to find a suitable alternative.

The poll also found:

  • Over a third have ever left their child/children (aged between 4-16) home alone.
  • Almost a fifth (19%) say they consider a child aged 9 and under to be safe to be left alone.
  • One quarter spend more than £101 on childcare every week during the summer holidays.
  • The average spend on summer childcare is £62.52 per week.

High childcare costs 'not the way to run the economy'

High childcare costs are "not the way to operate a modern economy" and a combined effort from the Government, teachers and employers to find a solution, a family expert has said.

Trust chief executive Anand Shukla, said:

A combination of unaffordable prices, lack of holiday childcare and inflexible employers is not only causing stress for parents, but it's bad for the economy.

Most parents have no choice but to work, and should not have to take sick days to manage childcare.

This is not the way to operate a modern economy, and this is why we are calling on employers and head teachers to help parents manage the school holidays, and on government for a new childcare strategy that properly represents the realities working families face today.

– Anand Shukla

Childcare prices 'highest in the south east'

Parents living in the south east of England can expect to hand over the most cash for childcare, a report has found.

According to the Family and Childcare Trust and Netmums:

  • The weekly cost in the south east is £140.88 on average.
  • Families in the North West have the lowest average weekly holiday childcare costs at £103.38.
  • In Wales holiday childcare costs £109.66 on average, and in Scotland it is £104.28.
  • A survey of parents conducted by parenting website Netmums and the Trust found that around 17% said that they had to take days off work sick last year to cover childcare.
  • This represents almost a million working days lost, the Trust said, which it claims costs the economy almost £100 million each year.
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