Candidates from main parties share plans to make childcare more affordable.
Candidates from the five main political parties taking part in the London mayoral elections have all shared what they will do to support parents facing high childcare costs in the capital.
Single parent charity Gingerbread has called on candidates to support parents about to start new jobs or increase their working hours with the initial costs of arranging childcare, through the London Assembly directly paying the deposits childcare providers typically require. The Assembly would get the money back once the children leave childcare.
The Green Party and Women’s Equality Party candidates have both backed the scheme in full; the Liberal Democrat and Conservative Candidates have said they will pilot offering more support to those parents working in London’s transport, policy or fire services (GLA employees), and Labour’s Sadiq Khan has said the idea is ‘worthy of serious attention.’
Gingerbread Chief Executive Fiona Weir said: “London’s parents face childcare bills up to a third higher than in the rest of the country. For the capital’s 320,000 single parents, the costs can make it difficult to go to work – especially when you’ve got a new job but must pay a deposit ahead of your first pay cheque.
“We’re delighted the five main candidates have agreed to either fully implement, run a pilot version, or give serious consideration to Upfront, a scheme aimed at helping parents with initial costs of securing childcare.
“This is a welcome step for the capital’s families, including the one in three headed by a single parent.
“We very much look forward to working with the next London mayor to plug a vital gap that is not currently being covered by any tier of government.”
The candidates have all blogged on the Gingerbread website, extracts below:
“I congratulate Gingerbread for encapsulating the difficulties faced by single parents, who on average are spending about half their income after housing costs on a nursery place for a child under two. Childcare costs in the city remain 30 per cent higher on average than elsewhere in the country. The high cost of childcare sometimes contributes to locking parents out of work, while about half of single parent children live in poverty.
“The problem is particularly acute for parents with pre-school kids, which is why Gingerbread recommends a childcare deposit scheme to help with upfront costs. This is certainly something worthy of serious attention as a strategy is put into practice to manage the costs of childcare.”
“In order to help more parents return to work, I will ensure that the Tfl, the Met and the GLA pilot Gingerbread’s proposal for the Mayor to provide a loan to cover the upfront costs of childcare deposits. And I will encourage other London businesses to do the same, too.
“If this works well – as I expect it to – I’ll look to open up this service even more widely.”
“I accept my policy of interest free loans to employees does not quite match Gingerbread’s policy of a childcare deposit guarantee. However, the difference in policy is not significant – indeed they both start from the premise of overcoming the immense upfront costs of childcare. I also accept if the rollout of interest free loans does not have a high take up then the case for a deposit should be considered.
“As Gingerbread have powerfully demonstrated there is scope for the Mayor to take a more active role in supporting London parents to fulfil their potential, to remove a significant barrier to higher employment rates and move towards a more productive economy.”
“Gingerbread’s scheme for a childcare deposit guarantee is a natural and logical step…and one which we would campaign for and welcome. The full cost implications would have to be worked out at a London level. With more devolved powers of taxation there are several ways in which we could find funds for this, and I pledge to investigate this fully and proactively if elected as Mayor or as an Assembly Member.”
“I fully back Gingerbread’s “Upfront” childcare deposit guarantee scheme – and I want to build a London where such a scheme isn’t needed, because childcare is affordable and single parents can access quality, well-paid work.”
 You can read the full blogs from the different candidates on our website.
 The full report of Upfront: A childcare deposit guarantee
can be found here
 Gingerbread’s survey found:
– Half of single parents surveyed said that they had to borrow money from friends, family or banks to pay for childcare in the past two years
– In 2015, one in six single parents in London (16 per cent) was under-employed
– A five percentage point rise in single parents’ employment rates could generate £436m a year to the Exchequer with a combination of reduced benefits (£272m) and increased tax revenue (£164m)
– 4,500 single parents in London will miss out on the government’s 30 hours of free childcare provision
– 24,000 single parents of pre-school children in London will for the first time be required to look for work or risk having their benefits sanctioned
 Single parents from across London have spoken out in support of the scheme:
Liz from Greenwich
“I had to give up a really good job because of childcare and have since turned down a job offer a couple of times… Balancing childcare and getting the right job is really quite challenging.”
Mila from Enfield
“If I want to go back to work full time I would I have to pay nursery costs but for me it’s too expensive. It would cost me £1,580 per month, so I only paid for two days per week will only be returning to work part-time. Even then I have had to borrow money from family, as it still costs me £700 per month.”
Gwyneth from Wandsworth
“I was considered a high-earner on £35,000 but because of London-waiting I missed out on tax credits and other benefits… I’ve also had to look at other career options because of the fact that I previously worked in hospitality, where there’s a complete lack of flexible hour roles.
Ife from Southwark
“So I’ve scaled back my hours to 20 hours per week because I know what financial implications of having to work 9-5 mean in terms of childcare…I also know that come the six-week school summer holidays I’m going to have to give up my job because I will not be able to afford the childcare costs.”
Thea from Haringey
“I was on maternity leave the full 52 weeks and received statutory pay for the first 39 weeks. I then had to send my child to nursery a month early because of the settling-in period and to guarantee a place at the nursery. This meant my child was attending nursery for one month before I even went back to work. It was so expensive and cost £1,100-a-month, in addition to having to pay £200 in advance to the childcare provider to guarantee a place. This meant that I was forced to rely on my parents for the deposit and the first month of childcare until I was paid.”