A MUM from Caldicot says she has had to reduce her working hours due to the high cost of childcare, as a report by Oxfam warns many parents are being driven into poverty.

The report, Little Steps, Big Struggles, Childcare in Wales, published by Oxfam, lifts the lid on more than 300 parents’ experiences of navigating Wales’ complex and "extortionately expensive" childcare system.

It warns that crippling childcare costs and a lack of Welsh Government-funded childcare provision is driving parents into poverty, leaving them without money to pay for basic essentials and forcing them to refrain from having more children.

Key survey findings include:

  • More than a quarter (27 per cent) of respondents say they spend more than £900 a month on childcare costs;
  • More than two in five (43 per cent) say they haven’t been able to pay other essential costs after paying for childcare;
  • Two-thirds (67 per cent) report having to reduce their working hours due to a lack of childcare.

Kate Wise, from Caldicot, has had to reduce her working hours due to high childcare costs.

She said: “I’ve seen prices jump from £48 to £64 a day. The cost of childcare is a huge financial burden; it meant that we carefully spaced out having our kids, so that we were only ever paying for one of them to be in nursery at any one time.

“The existing childcare support available from the Welsh Government needs to be simpler and easier to use: we’ve never been able to access the full 30 funded hours on offer because it’s logistically impossible for us to interrupt our working day to take children between childcare settings.”

Campaigners are calling for an overhaul of the Welsh Government’s existing childcare offer.

Currently, the Welsh Government provides 30 hours of funded childcare for three- and four-year-olds of eligible working parents.

It separately provides 2.5 hours of childcare a day for two-year-olds in low-income households in limited local authorities through its Flying Start scheme. But campaigners have described this as a "postcode lottery" and "wholly inadequate".

Head of Oxfam Cymru Sarah Rees said: “It defies all logic that the small number of people who are currently eligible for the meagre childcare support available for two-year-olds in Wales will then likely not be able to access further childcare support when their child turns three thanks to different eligibility criteria."

Rocio Cifuentes, the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, said: “As part of its work in tackling child poverty Welsh Government should review childcare provision to make sure that the significant amount of public money currently invested is reaching those who need the most help.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: "We are addressing child poverty as an absolute priority and continue to work together with our partners towards a Wales where every child, young person and family can prosper."