3m kids from working families in poverty: fund homes and childcare

The weekly cost of full-time childcare is an extortionate £233 a week, photo by Anthony Kelly/CC

The weekly cost of full-time childcare is an extortionate £233 a week, photo by Anthony Kelly/CC   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Hannah Davis, Birmingham Central Socialist Party

In the UK, 2.9 million children from working families are now living in poverty, reports the Department for Work and Pensions. And more than a third of babies are living below the poverty line, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

These numbers are linked to spiralling rent and mortgage costs. Many households are having to spend half of what they earn on rent. And the price of private rental properties could continue to rise – by 15% over the next five years – says the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

The relative security the generation before benefited from – earning a decent living, affording a decent home, and putting food on the table for your family – is vanishing fast. It used to be achievable for some with just one parent working full-time, but has now become a daydream even for families with two working parents.

Along with the rise in housing costs, there has been an increase in fees for childcare. The cost for a child under two in a nursery is now, on average, £122.46 a week for part-time and £232.84 a week for full-time care, finds the Family and Childcare Trust.

After these costs, parents are left with insufficient funds for all the other expenses they face. One mum from Yorkshire said that after nursery fees and bills she is left with just £30 a week for food and fuel!

Cuts to free services are pushing working parents into having no other choice than pay up or have no care for their kids.

In Birmingham, the Labour-run council is selling all of its nurseries to private childcare companies. The Blairites are forcing families to either pay extortionate costs for childcare, or leave their jobs to care for their children. Neither of which they can afford to do.

The Tories are saying tackling poverty is a priority. But how can this be the case when they continue to leech away what little families have through ruinous austerity and privatisation, assisted by the right wing of Labour?

Ending austerity means ending the Tory government, and kicking the Blairites out of Labour. Councils should use their reserves and borrowing powers to start building affordable housing for all, while campaigning for the funds from central government.

They should also implement rent controls in private housing, free childcare, and a real living wage for all. That kind of stand could topple this dying Tory government. Corbyn and the union leaders must urgently call action.