Early education and childcare coalition launch today

Posted 7 September 2023

Gingerbread are proud to be a founding member of the Early Education and Childcare Coalition . The coalition officially launches today, and brings together parents, charities and businesses. Together, they’re calling for a renewed focus on childcare and early education.

The coalition’s new report highlights the importance of  childcare. 59% of voters say good early years education benefits the whole country, not just parents. What’s more, 42% of voters say that it will be a key factor in who they vote for at the next general election.

The coalition wants to make sure that childcare is at the heart of the next election. It will highlight some of the priorities that single parents have raised with Gingerbread. These include affordability, availability, and holiday childcare.  All these issues can make it difficult or impossible for single parents to take on – or stay in – employment. This can lead to financial insecurity and greater stress and anxiety for single parents and their children.


The lack of affordable childcare can exclude many single parents from work, education or training.[1] Childcare costs in the UK are among the most expensive in all OECD countries.[2] For a single parent on minimum wage with two children, full-time childcare would take almost one third of their income, compared to less than a quarter for couple parents.[3]

In 2019, 40% of single parents found it difficult to meet their childcare costs, compared to 25% of couple households.[4] Since then, the economic impact of the pandemic and the cost of living crisis has exacerbated the situation, with childcare costs steadily increasing. [5] One single parent told us: “It’s too expensive and it’s not worth it.”


High childcare costs aren’t the only problem. Single parents often find that there simply aren’t enough flexible childcare places available. [6] The number of childcare providers is falling, with most of the closures involving childminders who tend to offer cheaper and more flexible provision.[7] In England, just 59% of local authorities have reported having enough childcare (‘in all areas’) available for parents working full time. 31% have reported a reduction in the number of wraparound childcare places for school-age children.[8]

Holiday childcare:

Holiday childcare is another concern for single parents with school-age children. Only 27% of English local authorities have enough holiday childcare available for parents in their area who work full-time. Holiday childcare costs have jumped by 5% since 2021.[9] In a survey conducted by Pregnant Then Screwed, 35% of 27,000 parents reported that the cost of summer childcare was the same or more than their earnings during the same period.[10] These findings were also reflected in our Single Parent Employment Challenge report (2023) where many surveyed single parents noted avoiding holiday childcare where possible due to the cost and lack of availability. Parents have also told us that they have had to quit jobs ahead of school holidays as they couldn’t afford or find childcare.


[1] Gingerbread, Single Parents in 2023 (2023)

[2] World Economic Forum (2019) These countries have the most expensive childcare (https://bit.ly/3vwhZSY)

[3] Gingerbread, The Single Parent Debt Trap (2021)

[4] Department for Education (2019) Childcare and early years survey of parents in England, 2019 (https://bit.ly/3pBawRD)

[5] Coram Family and Childcare’s 2022 annual Childcare Survey

[6] Gingerbread, The Single Parent Employment Challenge (2023)

[7] Ofsted (2023) Main findings: childcare providers and inspections as at March 2022

[8] Coram (2023)

[9] Coram (2022) Holiday Childcare Survey

[10] Pregnant Then Screwed, Summer Childcare Crisis (2022)

Share our report with your local MP, asking them to meet with Gingerbread (campaign@gingerbread.org.uk) at the upcoming party conferences to find out more.