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Nearly three-quarters of Unison members who responded to a survey have to rely on help from friends and family to t...
Nearly three-quarters of Unison members who responded to a survey have to rely on help from friends and family to tackle their childcare difficulties.

Shift workers have most trouble finding childcare services to cover their hours and only 10% had help from employers with childcare arrangements.

The survey, carried out for Unison by the Daycare Trust, polled a representative sample of members working in local government, the NHS, higher education, electricity, gas, water and transport. 83% of the respondents were women - Unison has 73% women membership - demonstrating that mothers are still taking the lead responsibility for childcare.

The survey looked at what arrangements parents made for children in different age bands, how much care cost, what help employers provided, difficulties and preferred solutions.

The survey found:

- most respondents were women, with roughly half working part-time and half working full-time. A quarter worked shifts.

- most earned under£15,000 with a sizeable minority earning under£5,000

- nearly all had multiple childcare arrangements

- informal childcare arrangements used by two-thirds of parents

- a quarter used childminders for children under two-years-old

- nearly half used a nursery for two and three-year-olds

- a quarter used childminders for four and five-year-olds

- 15 per cent used childminders for six-year-olds and over

- average cost was£30 per child per week

- nearly three-quarters face difficulties when children are ill or during school holidays

- 10% had help from employers - mainly flexible work arrangements

- ideal childcare would be nurseries for children under four-years-old and after school clubs and holiday playschemes for four-year-olds and over

Unison general secretary Rodney Bickerstaffe said: 'It is clear from this survey that our members face enormous difficulties in juggling their childcare responsiblities with work. And it demonstrates that access to affordable, good quality child care is a major problem for many parents. What is available is often out of the reach of parents' pockets. Undoubtedly women still shoulder the bulk of childcare responsibility.

'We will use this survey to continue to press the government for a National Childcare Strategy that meets the needs of our members. We will also use it to back up our negotiations for improved childcare provision and allowances from employers. Family friendly policies are a key priority for Unison.'

The survey entitled Parents and Childcare was published on Tuesday (Dec 15).

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