28 October 2011: We’ve published new figures showing that the combined cost of commuting and childcare swallows up a staggering one-third of families’ wages – and that’s before massive fare hikes come in next year.
For a family with two working parents and two children in nursery, rail fares and childcare costs eat up on average 35% of their joint take home pay – rising up to 40% in London and the South East.
Obviously many families will struggle to meet these costs, and there are some very worrying statistics that reveal that a quarter of parents have got into debt to pay for childcare alone, whilst a quarter of parents in severe poverty have given up work and a third have turned down a job mainly because of high childcare costs.
Even for families on average incomes, these combined costs mean that increasingly, working simply doesn’t pay. We did this research because we had started to hear from mothers who were deciding not to return to work after maternity leave because the spiralling cost of their rail commute meant that it didn’t make financial sense. Insurers Aviva recently released a report showing that women were giving up their jobs because meeting childcare, commuting and other family and work-related costs would actually cause them to lose money.
All this is before unprecedented season ticket increases of up to 13% come in from next January. The comments on our petition page are full of people saying that they plan to make radical changes to their lives – from moving house to giving up their jobs – as a result of the fare hikes. These stories, and our figures, show that the government’s decision to raise fares absolutely flies in the face of its mantra that ‘work must pay’. It’s also at odds with plans to require those on benefits to travel up to 90 minutes away from home in order to find work.
Our message? If you want to make work pay, don’t price people out of getting there.