A news feature on the Pregnant Then Screwed March of the Mummies campaign caught my eye over the Halloween weekend. Once again, the subject of the lack of childcare support available in the UK has made the news – in that there simply isn’t enough of it.
One of the key issues is at the point of your child’s birth, free childcare hours are non-existent in the UK – support only comes in once the child is two years old.
This, together with the loss of one income, can be catastrophic, with some finding it costs more to work (and pay childcare) than to live on one salary when the baby arrives.
A performer canvassed at the March of the Mummies protest explained how they had lost their dream job due to the lack of childcare facilities available to them. How very sad and how very familiar.
At a time of rising prices for everyone, where the economy is unstable and the demand on all charities is even higher, the theatre world is facing unprecedented difficulties of its own due to a double whammy of the cost of living crisis (resulting in lower audiences) together with arts funding cuts.
We are committed to supporting those in the dance industry including dancer/parents. I have previously spoken about Parents in Performing Arts (PIPA) and the great work they doing for all theatre workers, developing the Good Practice Charter and the toolkits for theatres. It is exciting that the progress specifically around dance and parenting (funded by Dance Professionals Fund) is now moving forward, shared at the symposium at Northern Ballet last month. We are excited to be looking at how, working with PIPA, we can be part of this essential change.
In order to assist dance professionals mid-career, we have been helping with the cost of childcare for over a decade. This support has been targeted mainly at those individuals who are retraining after their dance careers, in collaboration with Dancers Career Development in joint recognition of the barriers that lack of childcare can create. Sometimes the child or children are in school for some of the day, but the dancer’s training schedule falls outside of this.
If you are still dancing or teaching, particularly if you work as a freelancer, you are of course able to come to us and see if we can help you find a short-term solution, and perhaps help you consider longer term options. We always advise that you make sure that you are claiming everything that you are entitled to. The amount that can be claimed as Child Benefit per child as soon as the child is born is generally well known about, but there are other benefits and tax credits that it is always worth considering Tax Credits if you have a baby (www.gov.uk). We generally advise a tool such as turn2us.org.uk as a good starting point. If you are applying to us, we can run you through the various sources of information as well at the same time as supporting you with your situation.