'I had to leave my career behind to afford childcare for my son'

Lianne Campbell said she 'had no choice' but to step down from her job as parents struggle with soaring childcare costs.

Scottish mum reveals she had to leave her career behind in order to afford childcare for her son STV News

A mum has opened up on how she felt forced to leave her career to make ends meet after having a baby.

Lianne Campbell is a single mum to three-year-old Kai.

When she fell pregnant in 2019, she applied for flexible working hours. Her request was denied and she was forced to give up her management position at a call centre.

She now also relies on Universal Credit to afford her childcare fees.

Lianne told Scotland Tonight: “I was offered a role a few steps down with about a 12 grand pay decrease. I didn’t have any choice but to take it.

“I needed a job, I needed to pay my mortgage and my bills. And of course pay for childcare for Kai to allow me to go back to work.” 

New figures show two-thirds of parents in Scotland are leaving their jobs or reducing their hours because of the cost and availability of childcare.  

Lianne struggled to find childcare for her son Kai

The charity Pregnant Then Screwed also found in their research that 43% of Scottish parents cannot afford to have any more children due to childcare costs.  

Since August 2021, all three and four year olds in Scotland are entitled to 1,140 hours of free childcare a year. The funding can be used in many private nurseries, all council facilities as well as at some childminders.  

Last month, the First Minister announced plans to accelerate care expansion for two year olds but there’s been no indication of when exactly this will come into force.  

Having held her role for five years, Lianne didn’t want to leave her career behind when she had children, but felt she had no choice.

She now works term-time hours in the office of the local primary school.  

“A lot of people probably think I’m really lucky, but the reality is I earn less than half of what I did before I was pregnant,” she said.

“It took my years to get my where i was in my job. Will I ever be able to get back to that as Kai gets older with no management experience for so many years?”

“I love my job, the children parents and carers, but it’s not would I have wanted to do.”

Lianne 'had no other choice' but to take a lower-paid role after her flexible hours request was rejected

The average cost of full-time nursery care for an under three in Scotland is around £1,000 per month.

This is almost half of the average monthly Scottish wage (42%) and more than most people pay for their rent or mortgage.  

Lianne said: “Kai’s nursery bill was nearly £700 a month when I first went back to work. That was for two full days and one half day. You just don’t budget for these things.

“I know people who couldn’t go back to work after maternity leave and cant physically afford it because of their partners wages, they wouldn’t be entitled to help.

“If it wasn’t for my sister telling me about universal credit, I don’t know what I would have done. I had to negotiate getting enough pay to get by but little enough to get Universal Credit so I could afford childcare.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “High quality early learning and childcare, that is flexible, accessible and affordable is critical to giving children the best possible start in life – which is why the Scottish Government is investing around £1bn in the sector in 2023-24 alone.

“Scotland’s current funded childcare offering is the most generous of anywhere in the UK, with families who would have previously purchased childcare saving around £5,000 per eligible child per year.

“Our Programme for Government sets out plans to work with local government and partners to significantly expand our childcare programme as part of our national mission to tackle child poverty. We are committed to expanding access to funded childcare for 13,000 more children and families.

“Independent research published in December last year found that 88% of parents and carers who had a 3-5 year-old child in funded ELC were satisfied that they could access the support in a way that meets their family’s needs.

“The Scottish Government consulted with childcare providers, local government and unions as part of a consultation on different funding models to support the delivery of funded early learning and childcare prior to the expansion to 1,140 hours. The current funding system was identified as the preferred option.”

Watch the full report on STV’s Scotland Tonight, Thursday at 8.30pm. 

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