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Thursday, 10 February, 2000, 09:57 GMT
UK childcare 'dearest' in Europe

mother and child Report calls for government support for carers

The UK has the highest childcare costs in Europe, according to a new report.

The survey by the Family Policy Studies Centre found that it cost an average of 6,000 a year for a family with two children - one pre-school and one older.

The social research charity, The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which commissioned the report, has called for employers and the government to act to support workers with caring responsibilities.

With only one in 20 employers providing a range of "family-friendly" measures, the report warns of the effect on family life of a society split between those who have too much work and those who do not have enough.

The report concludes that secure employment and good working conditions are vital to healthy families.

Child writing Children need after-school care
Ceridwen Roberts, director of the Family Policy Studies Centre, said: "This is an issue that none of us can ignore. People should be able to work and care.

"We need a debate about who should share the costs of caring. Individual families cannot tackle this on their own." she added.

Ms Roberts also called for a change in the UK's work culture where long hours are tolerated.

"Public attitudes must shift so it is not acceptable for employers to make their staff work long anti-social hours," she said. "The government must set a legislative framework to support employees and encourage employers."

She said that without such a change, there would be the danger of a society being created where families are "stripped of some of their most fundamental functions".

At present almost 60% of men employed in the private sector have no access to any family friendly working arrangements, while women face substantial shortfalls in earning and pensions because of caring responsibilities.

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24 Jan 00 |  UK
Mothers shun careers for baby
14 Oct 99 |  UK
Working mothers 'can harm babies' learning'
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19 May 99 |  UK
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16 Apr 98 |  UK
Working parents are 'in control' says survey

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