Figures from the Office of National Statistics show that 62% of married or co-habiting women with a child under 5 work, either full-time or part-time. This is double what it was 25 years ago.
The latest ONS stats also reveal 76% of married mums with a child under 16 go to work, while 73% with two children under this age work. Of mums with three children, 58% work. And for mums with four kids, 40% head off to a job.
Many working mums would prefer to stay at home, surveys repeatedly suggest. However, these mums say economic pressures mean they need to be in employment. Last week, Government poverty figures highlighted this economic factor. The figures showed more than half of the children living below the poverty line come from two-parent families where only one parent is employed. Often, the non-working parent is mum, staying home to raise the children.
Critics of the Government’s policies are saying there should be more help in the tax system for those staying at home to raise their children.
Jill Kirby, of the Centre for Policy Studies, has said: “More and more households are being forced into having two earners, contrary to the clear wishes of most working mothers. There has to be more support for mothers who choose to stay at home and who believe that doing so is better for their children.”
Yesterday ministers launched a £75million programme for subsidised childcare, which could result in more stay-at-home mums heading off to work.
“We know that for those who can, work remains the best way to lift families and children out of poverty,” Children’s Minister Beverley Hughes said.
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