I had an email from the after school club my older two kids went to before I was made redundant last summer. I’m staying on their mailing list because I hope to use them again soon, if I can find a job that pays me enough. They also run the holiday club for when the kids are off school. Today’s email was a schedule/price list for the half-term break coming up. The price is £20 per day, per child, with two days where it’s £30 per day because they’re going on a trip. Currently I have two kids of primary school age and one who doesn’t start school til this coming August. The cost of a full day at the nursery the youngest used to go to is £46. So during school holidays, which there are rather a lot of, it would currently cost me at least £86 every day I have my kids in childcare. I’ll just say that again, eighty six pounds.
For context, before I was made redundant I earned £68 for an 8-hour day. That is a shortfall of £18 per day on childcare alone. And that was working in a skilled job earning what used to be considered a fairly decent wage. If I took a minimum wage job, I’d have a shortfall of £37 every day. So every time you hear of someone moaning about benefits claimants being snooty and lazy and considering themselves ‘above’ minimum wage work, and Joey Barton I’m looking at you here:
– this is what it really means. We’re ‘above’ spending one and a half times as much as we’re earning just on childcare. ‘Above’ propping up large companies shareholders’ profit margins with our labour at our own expense.
The irony is that even minimum wage shopwork is now like hen’s teeth to find anyway, because the government in its wisdom is encouraging large retailers to use unpaid workfare instead. Why would you want to employ someone and pay them a fair wage and give them workplace rights and holiday pay and pay them off when redundancies are necessary when you can get an endless supply of free short-term forced labour instead?
The cynical among us might start to think that they’re trying to artificially inflate the ranks of the unemployed to make everyone desperate to take whatever paltry wage they care to offer, while at the same time making it look like the opposite is happening, by taking people off the official unemployment stats. Meanwhile single parents, the disabled, the long-term unemployed continue to be an acceptable target for any swinging dick who earns more in a week than I will in ten years. Because we’re just up ourselves, see?