UK working mothers are ‘sacrificial lambs’ in coronavirus childcare crisis

Connecting the Dots – #YesThisIsAnArtsStory Repost from The Guardian

Alexandra Topping | 24 July 2020

Women are being treated as “sacrificial lambs” as the UK economy contracts, with half of working mothers unable to access the childcare they need to return to work, according to a survey exposing the scale of the UK’s childcare crisis.

As the government was accused by MPs from both sides of the political divide of ignoring and sidelining women in its response to the coronavirus pandemic, the survey revealed a lack of childcare played a role in the job losses of almost half of the women made redundant since the pandemic hit.

It also reveals that, in the last four months, 67% of key workers were forced to reduce their hours because of a lack of access to childcare, 60% struggled with childcare provision, and 45% did not have the childcare in place they needed over the summer. Of the 1,756 pregnant key workers who responded to the survey, 30.5% had been suspended on incorrect terms, such as being told to take sick leave or to start maternity leave early.

The failure to put access to childcare at the heart of government policy risked sending women back to the 1970s, said Caroline Nokes, the Conservative MP who chairs the women and equalities select committee. She called the lack of a single reference to childcare in the summer mini-budget “shocking”.

“The specific needs of women are not on anyone’s agenda right now,” she said. “In order to even stand still on gender equality at this moment you would need real drive and ambition, but we are not seeing anyone grasp that.”