For many women in the UK, balancing work and family life can be a challenging task. Whilst many have ambitions to pursue a career and achieve success in the business world, they are also responsible for the care and upbringing of their children. Childcare, therefore, plays a crucial role in the lives of many working women, allowing them to pursue their career goals without compromising their family commitments. Women in business and childcare are something we as a nation need to talk about.
Childcare and the new Budget 2023
Though the recent announcement, by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, of 30 hours of free weekly childcare for working parents will be welcomed by many, others will likely say it isn’t enough – especially when a full rollout isn’t due until September 2025.
In the UK, there are several childcare options available to working parents, including nurseries, childminders, and after-school clubs. However, the cost of childcare can be prohibitively expensive, particularly for those on lower incomes. According to recent research, childcare costs in the UK are some of the highest in the world. Parents are currently spending an average of £6,000 per year on childcare per child.
This high cost of childcare can be a significant barrier to women who want to pursue their career goals. It can be particularly challenging for single mothers, who may struggle to afford childcare on their own. As a result, many women are forced to choose between their career and their family. Unfortunately, this can lead to a significant gender pay gap and a lack of diversity in the workplace.
To address this issue, the UK government has introduced several initiatives to support working parents in its Spring 2023 budget. However, there is still more that needs to be done to support working women in the UK. This includes increasing the availability of flexible working arrangements, such as part-time and remote working, which can help women to balance their work and family commitments. It also means promoting a culture of inclusivity and diversity in the workplace. Supporting and valuing all employees, regardless of their gender or parental status, is critical. Socially funded childcare will, of course, help with this – but a greater cultural change is likely required.
We are dedicated to helping working mums
Many women have come to The Women’s Organisation wanting to start a business because of childcare stresses. This includes the expense of childcare, not having any childcare available, or wanting to balance work and family life. Being self employed has the potential to alleviate some of these issues. Catheryn O’Grady came to us seeking business advice for her project management and events business. She recalls one of the main reasons why she wanted to set up her own business.
“When I was working in Manchester I was traveling up and down the M6 and doing 12-hour days, and seeing my kids only to put them to bed. As a working mum, it is extremely difficult to get the balance right, but now that I work for myself all that has changed and it is so much more flexible.”
Childcare plays a crucial role in the lives of many working women in the UK, allowing them to pursue their career goals without compromising their family commitments. But the high cost of childcare can be a significant barrier to many, particularly those on lower incomes. The aim should be to create a more equitable and supportive environment for all working parents in the UK. This is needed now, not in the next three years.
How we can help
To find out more about how The Women’s Organisation is committed to getting women and mothers back into work, and how it sees childcare and women in business as a key interest, visit our Better Off Fund Page by clicking here.
Are you currently thinking about starting a business? Or maybe you have an idea and want to know more information? Come along to one of our Are you Ready to Start a Business sessions. If you are living in the Liverpool City Region, you can apply for a fully funded place. To find out more, click here.