When Chloe McGuiness returned to work after the birth of her son, she had two options: pay her entire salary in childcare costs or put her career on hold.
The 25-year-old property manager asked her employer if a flexible working agreement could be reached, in return for working nights and every weekend. “It was ultimately refused and the team didn’t think it was fair for me to get flexible hours when others didn’t,” she said.
“I couldn’t afford the £1,200 a month in childcare costs for me to go back to work, which would have been the same as my take-home salary, so I left.” She now works as a restaurant manager until midnight, tag teaming with her partner to look after their son.
She belongs to a generation of women forced out of work or into debt by the sky-high costs of family care.
So, don’t work then, look after your own damn kid.
We could, sensibly, argue that we should make childcare cheaper. Cut the regulations surrounding it that make it so expensive. But asking that someone else – the taxpayer – cover those costs does not, in fact, change those costs. Which brings us back to the original and correct calculation. There are two forms of work that Cloe could be doing. Looking after her kid, which is worth £1200 a month. Or working in property management, which is worth £1200 a month.
If the kid thing is worth £1300 and the prop mang £1100 then the societal answer is obvious. Look after the kid. We are, after all, trying to maximise value added in the economy.
Another way to say the same thing. There’s no point in paying one set of women to look after the kids of another set of women if those seconds are doing low value work.
Harsh but actually true.
Another way to put this is that GDP, the economy, etc aren’t everything, shouldn’t even be our goal. A thriving society is. So, why would we bend over backwards to send women off into paid work when there’s that more valuable thing they could be doing, nurturing the next generation?
Yes, indeed, I am old, male and white. Which is why I don’t think it’s the function of the taxpayer to solve the servants problem.