BUDGET: Marazion mum reacts to childcare support proposals
Thousands of west Cornwall families could be in line for help with childcare costs under plans announced in today's budget.
During his budget speech in the House of Commons, Chancellor George Osborne said the government would support parents with 20 per cent of their childcare costs up to £1,200 per child per year.
West Cornwall childcare professionals and parents cautiously welcomed the proposals but wanted to know how the scheme would work in practice.
Moves to slash the spiralling cost of childcare will see working parents earning up to £150,000 each get tax breaks worth as much as £1,200 a year per child.
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It will only apply to couples where both parents are working, or single parents who are employed. The scheme will be phased in from 2015 – the year of the general election.
Estimates suggest that 18,258 families in Cornwall could benefit.
Working parent Lucy Hamilton's two children four-year-old Delilah and 18-month-old Tallulah both go to the Marazion Children's Centre.
Mrs Hamilton currently works about 14 hours per week at a local cafe but previously worked up to 30 hours.
She said: "At the moment I don't get any help.
"It is expensive there is no doubt about it. When Delilah was a baby I used to work about 25 to 30 hours a week and she was in nursery four days a week and it used to cost me a fortune and I would think 'what is the point in doing this?'"
"(The new support) would be a big help – it just takes a little bit of the pressure off. I like to work and I like having a job. It is great if people can afford to be stay at home mums but I like having a bit of me time and talking to grownups."
Despite this, Mrs Hamilton admits that she often does not earn much money when she works, once childcare costs are deducted.
She said: "I am working all day tomorrow and it will cost £27 to put my little one in nursery for the day and I'll probably earn about £40 so I will only make £13."
She added that she would be keen to see how the new system would work in practice and that it was often difficult and time-consuming to deal with the bureaucracy surrounding this type of scheme.
Manager of the Marazion centre, which has 34 youngsters on its books, Joanne Murt, said the proposals sound positive but she wants to see more details.
She said: "It would certainly help a lot of parents so I would like to see more details before I say it is brilliant ... sometimes to qualify it for it is really difficult and I would like to know whether the money comes straight to us or to the parents."
She added that for parents in west Cornwall child care fees could be even more of a problem because of low wages and many parents doing seasonal work.
"There are some parents that put their children in for short periods and rely on friends and family to collect and look after them," she said.
"Cost is a factor for parents to consider when they go back to work."