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New mothers do not want to work
BY ALEXANDRA FREAN SOCIAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT
April 5, 2000
MORE than a third of new mothers believe that returning to work after childbirth is a waste of time because their earnings would be completely swallowed by childcare costs, a survey has shown.
Just 33 per cent of working mothers said that returning to work was "financially worthwhile" and a further 32 per cent believe that getting a job would make them "slightly" better off.
The survey also found that only 6 per cent of mothers of babies or toddlers actually enjoy working full-time, while 81 per cent said that they would rather stay at home if the financial and promotion penalties of doing that were not so high.
The finding that the vast majority of new mothers do not want to work will come as a blow to ministers, who believe that one of the best ways of achieving their goal of eradicating child poverty within a generation is to encourage more mothers to get jobs. Although the Government's National Childcare Strategy has increased the number of childcare places by more than 170,000 in the past two years, and the new Working Families Tax Credit is providing help with childcare costs worth up to £105 a week for low-income families, the survey, based on the views of 2,000 women, suggests that this help is insufficient.
It shows that many new mothers are forced to rely on their own parents to provide free childcare while they work.
Rashmi Madan, editor of Mother and Baby magazine, which
commissioned the survey, said: "Childcare is an expensive business -
between £500 and £750 a month for a full-time nursery depending on
where you live. If it weren't for willing grandparents who will look
after their grandchildren for free, many mothers would not be able
to afford to go back to work."
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