A MUM-OF-THREE says despite being desperate to work, childcare is too expensive.
Laura Collins, 38, realised that after having children and paying for their childcare fees, she would be working for "almost nothing".
She was a nurse for 13 years in Manchester at the Salford Royal Infirmary before she had children and without family to support her, she says she had to give up her job after childcare proved extortionate.
"I had my first child, Ben, now aged seven, in 2013 whilst I was a band five nurse, he went into a local nursery at eight months," she said.
"It was expensive but manageable with childcare vouchers from me and my husband and we have never claimed child benefits because my husband has always earned just above the threshold.
"Three years later, pregnant with my daughter, Nancy, 4, we realised despite me being a band six sister, my take home pay wouldn't be enough to cover two children in childcare, so we made the decision for me to stay at home.
"We now have a third child, Sydney, who is 18 months old, despite the older two being in full time school our household income is not enough to afford childcare.
"We are no longer eligible for childcare vouchers so would get zero help and we manage but we can't afford much else.
To add to that, their youngest was born with Hirschsprung's Disease but the family say they do not qualify for disability allowance and his condition is not severe enough.
"I feel very strongly that I'm trapped by the system, I would love to work but childcare cost is a massive block, I don't have family to ask.
"I think it is massively unfair that you can have two parents bringing in just under the threshold for child benefits and they will get the full amount.
"But in families where one parent is sole financial provider is just over the threshold they get nothing.
"Stay at home parents are forgotten, their work devalued and there is no childcare support to get them back into the workforce.
'TRAPPED BY THE SYSTEM'
"I am no longer a registered nurse, and have no recent work history, so no-one wants to employ me and the jobs I could get would not pay enough for childcare.
Laura has decided to do an Open University course in IT to finally hopefully have more flexibility to care for her children and work.
"I am lucky but I know other stay at home parents trapped by childcare costs that are not so."
And Laura is not alone, parents-of-two Ellie Carey and her husband Jack can’t afford to give gifts to each other this year due to the Universal Credit cut.
“I’m glad my kids are at the age they are that they probably won’t remember. But we will,” she told The Sun.
“We’ll be savvy and buy things as we go along, putting food in the freezer where possible.
"But we won’t be able to buy them the things we want to for Christmas and we’ll go without presents this year ourselves”
Ellie, 25, can’t get back to work - she says she can’t afford to pay for childcare upfront.
For now, Ellie is a stay at home mum and is also dealing with two newly diagnosed chronic health conditions that leave her in daily pain.
The childcare survey came prior to a debate on childcare in parliament that was triggered after more than 100,000 parents signed a petition calling for an independent review of childcare funding and affordability.
Data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has revealed the UK has the third most expensive childcare system in the world - behind Slovakia and Switzerland - and that a full-time place costs £12,376 a year on average.
One-third of parents in the recent survey said they paid more for childcare than their rent or mortgage, rising to 38% for those in full-time work and single parents, and to 47% of respondents from a black ethnic background.
A Department for Education spokesperson said: "We’ve made an unprecedented investment in childcare over the past decade and have spent over £3.5 billion in each of the past three years on our early education entitlements.
"All children aged three and four can access 15 hours of free childcare a week, as well as two-year-olds from lower income families, and we have doubled this for three and four-year-olds in families where parents work, saving them up to £5,000 a year.
“We have introduced tax-free childcare and through Universal Credit parents can claim back up to 85 per cent of their childcare costs and our expanded Holiday Activities and Food programme will run in every part of the country this year over the summer and Christmas holidays.”