As part of Save the Children’s Make Childcare Work campaign, we took a group of eleven mums to Parliament in July to call for change to upfront childcare costs under Universal Credit. They gave evidence to a parliamentary inquiry, did media interviews, met ministers and MPs, handed in a petition and attended a roundtable with MPs. This is Emma’s story.
Our day began by watching the inquiry into school holiday hunger that the Work and Pensions Select Committee were running in Parliament. I had never been into Parliament, or even watched an inquiry before, so I had no idea what to expect but I was very intrigued to find out…
The inquiry was chaired by MP Frank Field with several other MPs asking questions to four very brave mums, including our very own #MumOnAMission Nichola. I found listening to their individual stories and struggles heart-breaking. Each mum highlighted their financial struggles under Universal Credit, where childcare is paid on receipt, and explained how they struggled to balance working and paying for the upfront childcare costs, especially in the school holidays. In order to get through the school holidays these mums were making huge sacrifices, such as going without food and having to use food banks to feed their children. Another problem which these mums were experiencing was the high cost of school uniform and having to go into debt to pay for it.
Listening to these ladies suddenly made me think about my own situation. My daughter is currently at nursery and she is about to start school in September. It’s a huge milestone which we’ve been looking forward to, but for the last few months I’ve been worrying about how I am going to juggle childcare and working. I’m also worrying about the cost of her school uniform and I’m having to ask family members to buy an item of clothing each. What I took away from the inquiry was the huge impact of poverty in the school holidays, not just financially but in terms of nutrition and mental health, but also the bravery and dignity of the mums who spoke out about their personal situations to help us all.