Children are expensive. But just how expensive could be becoming more of an issue for British business. As inflation soars and the cost of living crisis starts to properly pinch, parents are stuck with high costs and difficult decisions that may have knock-on effects on their employers in an already extremely tight labour market.
We’ve already moved on from the days when childcare was seen as merely a person problem for parents. That transition is implicit in both the structure of support schemes, which has tilted in favour of working families, and the government choice to keep nurseries open during the second UK lockdown even as schools stayed shut.
But the UK is far from a system of cheap and flexible care. Instead it is, as Christine Farquharson of the Institute for Fiscal Studies put it last year, “complicated, costly and constantly changing”.
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