Childcare Scotland: Four in 10 Scots having an abortion say spiralling costs are the main reason

SNP ministers are being told this ‘devastating’ report from Pregnant Then Screwed shows many would-be parents in Scotland ‘simply can’t afford to have children’

Four in ten Scottish women who have had an abortion say the cost of childcare was the main reason for terminating their pregnancy.

SNP ministers are being told this “devastating” research from the campaign group Pregnant Then Screwed shows many would-be parents “simply can’t afford to have children” because of the prohibitive costs of childcare.

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This new research also found 84 per cent of Scottish parents say their childcare costs are the same or more than their income, meaning they are having to pay to work.

Mother Amey Dalton with her youngest sonMother Amey Dalton with her youngest son
Mother Amey Dalton with her youngest son

Meghan Gallacher, deputy leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said: “These shocking findings highlight the impossible position many expectant mums are finding themselves in. My thoughts are with any women who have had to make this life-changing decision.

“For too many mothers and families, the costs of childcare are far too high and there simply are not enough providers in their local community. SNP ministers, including Humza Yousaf, have repeatedly delivered warm words on childcare, but we must finally see them deliver proper support for the sector in the wake of this devastating report.”

The Scottish Lib Dems said the research “paints a bleak picture” of the state of childcare in Scotland.

The new research also found 71 per cent of mothers and 50 per cent of fathers said it did not make financial sense for them to be working, and 28 per cent said they were in an “impossible situation” where they were having to choose between paying for childcare and buying essential items.

A further 41 per cent said they had to rely on some form of debt or withdraw money from their savings to pay for childcare, and 20 per cent have raided their savings or pension to pay for their childcare bills.

Carole Erskine, head of policy and campaigns in Scotland at Pregnant Then Screwed, said: “The Government is desperate for families in Scotland to have more babies, but our research shows that many parents simply can’t afford to have children due to the ever-spiralling costs of childcare.”

Mother-of-three Amey Dalton said she was not going to be able to have any more children and would soon need to give up her job as a social worker because of childcare costs.

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Ms Dalton, from Perth, had her youngest child only three months ago, but won’t be returning to work after her maternity leave ends because childcare for her four-year-old would cost around £800 a month.

She said: “We knew it would be difficult when I fell pregnant, but at the time Westminster was making a lot of noise about increasing funded childcare and we assumed the Scottish Government would follow suit. It makes me sad as a working parent that I can’t provide for my children, but it is not worth going back to work to pay all of that money into childcare and then go into debt paying all the other bills.”

She said she was constantly having to say “no” to her children because she was having to save money for childcare.

Ms Dalton said: “If they want to go to soft play, I have to say ‘no’. Recently I took them for a haircut and I had to think about it beforehand.

“Last year when my four-year-old started getting offered childcare we were able to go on our first family holiday, and this year my six-year-old asked when we were going to go on holiday again, and I had to say ‘no, we can’t’.

“I didn’t want to say to him, but we can’t afford a holiday again until he is nine and the youngest gets funded childcare. I can’t consider having another child now because I can’t put them through another three years of that.”

The research from Pregnant Then Screwed also found 42 per cent of parents are spending more than a quarter of their entire household income on childcare, rising to over half for some 15 per cent of parents. It is worse in cities like Aberdeen and Glasgow – in Aberdeen, 61 per cent of parents are sacrificing a quarter of their income, and a quarter are spending over half their income.

Meanwhile in Glasgow 57 per cent are spending a quarter of their income and 23 per cent are spending almost half their income on childcare. The research also found 94 per cent of parents believe the Government is not doing enough to support parents with childcare in Scotland.

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This comes after a report published earlier this week found fewer than a third of UK councils have enough childcare spaces for children under the age of two, and parents are having to travel longer distances and borrow money to meet childcare costs.

Ms Erskine said: “Having children is becoming a luxury item for many, and we need to nip this in the bud for the sake of our economy. Parents cannot pay to go to work – it doesn’t make financial sense, but as things stand, many have no other choice.

“If the Government is serious about supporting families in Scotland, we need to see investment that matches that vision.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: "A women’s right to choose is a deeply personal issue and there are a wide range of reasons why different women may seek an abortion. The Scottish Government will look carefully at the full findings of this research once it is published.

"Scotland is the only part of the UK to already offer 1,140 hours a year of funded early learning and childcare to all three and four-year-olds and eligible two-year-olds – equivalent to 30 hours per week in term time – regardless of their parents’ working status, putting children first. This offer has been in place since 2021 and, if families paid for this themselves, it would cost them around £5,800 per eligible child per year.

"We recognise that supporting families through high-quality, affordable and accessible childcare is critical to our national mission to tackle child poverty.  We will continue our work to develop an expanded national offer for more families with two-year olds, and progress work with early adopter communities in six local authorities to develop local systems of funded childcare for families who need it most.”



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