Childcare costs pose major obstacle to retention of talent in the workplace, says IoD

In a recent Institute of Directors survey of over 600 business leaders, 57% stated that they believe that the cost and availability of childcare restricts the capacity of women to take on senior business positions. In addition, 72% were in favour of the provision of more generous government support of childcare costs.

The IoD is therefore calling for the UK Government to:

  • Appoint a Childcare Tsar – whilst there is currently a Children’s Commissioner, the scope for this role is already significant and a more specific role is required to drive this agenda forward
  • Undertake a broad ranging review of the cost and availability of childcare, looking at:
    • Childcare-related barriers to work and income traps across different income groups, employment types and family sizes
    • A proper debate around nursery top-up fees and the employment and tax status of nannies/child carers

Dr Suzy Walton, a non-executive director of the Institute of Directors and mother of 7, said:

“Childcare for under 5’s in the UK is more expensive than almost anywhere in the world. This is unquestionably a barrier for parents and forces particularly, but not exclusively, mothers out of the workplace. Therefore, let’s have the conversation about how the UK can lead not lag on enabling parents to work.”

Dr Roger Barker, Director of Policy at the Institute of Directors, said:

“The UK Government has set out a number of measures to address access to childcare. However, as our survey has shown, business leaders continue to view the cost and availability of childcare as a significant barrier, affecting a wide range of individuals, across different income groups, employment types and family sizes.

“Employees, employers and the wider economy will all benefit if we are able to ensure that parents are able to access the appropriate support to be able to continue to work. Therefore, to ensure that we are able to have a sensible and informed debate on how to address these barriers, we are calling for the Government to undertake a detailed review of the current state of play in the UK.”

Dr Suzy Walton, whose last child arrived in the pandemic, has set out her views on childcare policy in an IoD Director Role Model podcast here.

Full Survey Results

608 respondents, conducted between 13– 29 October 2021

In your experience, does the cost/availability of childcare restrict the capacity of skilled/qualified women to undertake board or other senior business roles? 

Yes, to a significant extent
Yes, to some extent
Not really
Not at all
Don't know

Would you support the provision of more generous government support of childcare costs, e.g. through subsidised nursery places or tax incentives?

Strongly support - this should be a priority
Support to some degree
No - the current support is sufficient
Don't know

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