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‘Childcare costs have plunged my family into debt

Parents are sinking further into debt in order to cope with rising childcare costs, figures from Pregnant Then Screwed reveals on Friday.

According to a survey from the campaign group, 45.9 per cent of parents in England with a child under five said they had accrued debt or had been forced to withdraw money from their savings to pay for childcare – a 30 per cent jump from 35.2 per cent last year.

One such parent is mother-of-two Tamara Bradshaw from London, who told i she is “haemorrhaging money” to cope with rising costs.

Between forking out for childcare costs and paying for her 79-year-old mum Sarita Boyle’s nursing home fees, Ms Bradshaw has been forced to take out a loan and rely on credit cards and overdrafts to survive.

“It is completely unaffordable and childcare costs on top of everything else feels like you’re sinking deeper into debt just for the privilege of working,” she told i.

Tamara Bradshaw reveals how being part of the ?sandwich generation? of raising a young family and caring for an elderly parent means she and her husband are thousands of pounds in debt. Tamara with her son Astor, six (Photo: supplied)
Tamara Bradshaw with her son Astor, six

“We are in this extreme situation where as well as having to provide and care for our young children, I have a mother in a nursing home and I am her primary carer as she is a single mum and I am her only child.”

Ms Bradshaw, 42, who lives in central London with her husband Jack and their son Astor, six, and daughter Ripley, two, works part-time as a costume designer and freelance university lecturer. She says they are paying between £1,500 and £2,000 a month for their daughter to attend nursery three days a week.

“My son has a rare syndrome and has special educational needs and this affects the amount of work I can do because he is very attached to me and I have to be available for him,” she explained.

“We put my daughter in nursery for three days a week and that costs us £1,500 a month. However, because I do freelance work as a costume designer and lecturer, my work can vary and this month, I am working Tuesdays and Fridays – but Ripley’s nursery days are Monday to Wednesday.

“So I have had to book her in for Fridays as well this month and each day of nursery costs £105 which means we are paying over £2,000 in nursery fees alone this month – and I am definitely not earning £2,000 this month.

“Just to have the privilege of working, I have to pay £105 a day for my daughter to be in nursery. However, I have to do it to keep my foot in the door at work as my career has been a big part of my life.

“I have two degrees and I have worked hard to build my business.”

Ms Bradshaw says her husband earns around £40,000 a year and she earned £21,000 last year working part-time as a freelancer.

While she knows they are not high earners, she feels this should be enough for a family – but their huge costs means they have had no choice but to plummet into debt.

“My mother has a degenerative brain disease and is in a nursing home – as well as paying our mortgage and bills and childcare costs, we are paying money towards my mother’s nursing home every month.

“It literally feels like we are haemorrhaging money and the only way we are able to do it is by getting into a lot of debt.”

Ms Bradshaw said through a combination of nursery and nursing home fees, she has taken a £20,000 loan, she and her husband both have £8,000 of debt each on their credit cards.

She also has a £5,000 overdraft which she is desperate to pay off as soon as possible to avoid being charged 39 per cent interest.

“We also owe my in-laws who live in Norway a few thousand pounds as one month, they said they would pay our childcare for us to give us a bit of a break. They are amazing, but they can’t afford to do that,” Ms Bradshaw added.

Tamara Bradshaw reveals how being part of the ?sandwich generation? of raising a young family and caring for an elderly parent means she and her husband are thousands of pounds in debt. Tamara with her husband Jack and their children Astor and Ripley (Photo: supplied)
Tamara Bradshaw with her husband Jack and their children Astor and Ripley (Photo: supplied)

The couple are currently in the process of remortgaging their flat to release some money to tide them over until September when their daughter will be eligible for 30 hours of free childcare funding.

With the Government’s new 15 hours of childcare funding for two-year-olds coming in from April, Ms Bradshaw had hoped it would bring them some much needed financial breathing space.

However, she now is concerned this will not change things.

“Even though my daughter will be eligible for the 15 hours funded childcare from April, because the Government funding for nurseries is inadequate, they are upping their prices so they can give people these 15 free hours – so it is actually cancelling itself out,” she said.

“When I first heard about this childcare funding scheme, I was actually crying thinking it would bring us some much needed relief. But now it is coming in, we realise it is so paltry, it won’t give us any respite at all.”

She added: “There is this constant expectation that most parents can fall back on grandparents to help look after their children and save them money on childcare. But I don’t have that luxury. In fact, I am the absolute opposite as I am the carer for my mother.

“People like me who are the ‘sandwich generation’ are becoming more prominent and the situation is only going to get worse.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We are rolling out the largest ever expansion in childcare support in England’s history, saving families using the full 30 funded hours up to £6,500 per year.

“Our average funding rates for new entitlements are expected to be substantially higher than the average hourly fees paid by parents last year, and we are already seeing providers looking to expand their placements across the country.

“We published local authority hourly funding rates in November, and we are urging local authorities to confirm these rates by the end of the month.”

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