'Crippling' childcare costs are putting parents off having more children, Oxfam report finds

'Crippling' childcare costs are forcing Welsh parents into poverty, according to a report by Oxfam Cymru.

Alex McGinn, 32, lives in Holyhead and is a single mum to a two-year-old boy.

She went back to work when her little boy was four-and-a-half months-old, but he won't be eligible for free childcare until he's three-years-old, because her family didn't qualify for the flying start scheme.

She says "it's a postcode lottery, it's not means-tested, I don't get it."

But Alex says, even if you do qualify, the scheme isn't helpful.

"The funding has to be used in a childcare facility for two hours a day- what working parent can take their child to this setting for two hours a day- I don't get it."

At the moment, nearly half her household budget is spent on childcare.

"I'm waiting for him to turn three so we get the Childcare Offer for Wales funding, and I feel like I'm wishing his life away.

"Maternity leave tends to finish around nine months- then there's nothing, there's a big gap in the childcare.

"I just couldn't afford to stay home, but then going to work I wasn't much better either.

"I feel like I'm working just to pay childcare.

"I was almost robbed of the opportunity to stay home and spend time with him."

Laura Jones, 35, and her partner moved back home to Holyhead from Newcastle to start a family.

They have two little boys, both under three.

"We moved back from England to start a family and now we just feel we're at a disadvantage.

"If we still lived in England, from April, our eldest would be getting 15 hours childcare for free, and from September our youngest would be getting 15 hours for free as well.

"We love Wales, we were born in Holyhead and that's where I want my children to grow up, but it is putting huge strain on us."

Children in Wales get 30 hours of childcare free from the term after their third birthday. Because her eldest son's birthday is in April, he misses the cut off, and Laura and her partner will have to wait until September to receive the funding.

This means that for five months, they will be paying for childcare for two children full time.

Laura works as a dietician in the NHS. She's on maternity leave, but wants to go back to work in March.

"I would love to be able to stay at home with my children but I love my career as well, I worked hard to get to that point."

They're considering taking out a loan to fund childcare- which they say will cost them £1,900 every month.

"That's obviously going to put massive financial pressures on us and affect our quality of lives. It's already causing huge amounts of stress."

Together with the cost of living crisis, it's even had an impact on their plans for the future.

"We've decided we cannot have anymore children because we just purely cannot afford it.

"Everything's just adding up together, and it does put a huge strain on us."

Figures from Oxfam Cymru have shown the extent of the costs parents are having to pay:

The report says that a lack of Welsh Government funded childcare provision is a part of the problem.

Eligible working parents can access 30 hours of funded childcare for three and four-year-olds through the Welsh Government's Childcare Offer.

It also provides 2.5 hours of childcare a day for two-year-olds in low-income households in some local authorities through its Flying Start scheme.

But both Laura and Alex say the scheme is "a postcode lottery".

The Welsh Government say the scheme is "successful" and provides "high quality childcare".

They say "addressing child poverty is an absolute priority", and they are "continuing to invest £70m in this sector."

They also stress that their childcare offer is more generous than England's; providing 30 hours of funded childcare a week for up to 48 weeks a year for three and four-year-olds of eligible parents, including parents in education or training.

In England, the offer is only for 38 weeks of the year, and for working parents only.

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