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Social Justice

‘We’re running out of babies’: Childcare costs driving parents into debt and to abortion, study finds

Pregnant Then Screwed fears that childcare costs will put parents off having babies and the ‘economy can’t afford to pay that price’

Childcare costs are driving parents into debt and to abortion, new research has revealed.

Pregnant Then Screwed has found that more than half of mothers (52.5%) who have had an abortion believe that the cost of childcare was the primary reason for terminating their pregnancy.

Meanwhile, 45% of parents have been plunged into debt or have withdrawn their savings to pay for childcare. That’s an increase of nearly a third in the last year.

Joeli Brearley, CEO and founder of charity, Pregnant Then Screwed said: “We’ve not only got a cost of living crisis, we’ve got a cost of working crisis that disproportionately impacts mothers.”

One in three (33.6%) mothers are unable to return to work full-time due to childcare costs or availability, compared to 11.9% of fathers. Half of single parents have had to borrow money to pay for childcare.

The government has announced plans to expand free childcare provisions to more parents. By September 2025, working families will be entitled to 30 hours of free childcare each week until their children reach school.

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But children whose parents earn less than £8,670 each are not eligible for the scheme and will miss out on key opportunities for early development.



The children’s minister David Johnston previously told The Big Issue: “What we have is a very generous childcare offer. An individual parent will be able to earn up to £100,000 and be able to claim this even if two are under that threshold. So whilst it’s not directed at certain types of incomes, it will help the vast majority of families.”

Around 90% of parents told Pregnant Then Screwed they “do not believe the government’s promise that childcare costs will reduce”.

Joeli Brearley, chief executive and founder of the campaign group, said: “We’re running out of babies. The birth rate is in decline. But parents who want to have more children cannot afford to do so.

“Being a parent is tough enough, but when having more children means sacrificing your income, procreation feels like financial suicide. If we aren’t careful, becoming a parent will be a luxury item, and the economy can’t afford to pay that price.”

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