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Lone parents and informal childcare : a tax credit childcare subsidy?

Skinner, C. (orcid.org/0000-0001-8548-9009) and Finch, N. (orcid.org/0000-0001-5753-1783) (2006) Lone parents and informal childcare : a tax credit childcare subsidy? Social Policy and Administration. pp. 807-823. ISSN 1467-9515

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The Labour government aims to increase the lone parent employment rate to 70 per cent by 2010. To achieve this aim, it has introduced a state subsidy for childcare in the form of the childcare element of the Working Tax Credit. So far this has been limited to formal childcare despite evidence that lone parents are more likely to use informal childcare. This article investigates the potential of a state subsidy to be extended to support informal childcare. Utilizing evidence from a study of 78 qualitative in-depth interviews with lone parents, it explores preferences for informal care and the way that informal care is negotiated. On the one hand, we found that some lone parents held deeply embedded preferences for informal childcare based on trust, commitment, shared understandings and children's happiness. Thus it can be concluded that it is important for the government to support informal as well as formal care. On the other, we found that the way lone parents actually negotiated informal childcare involved complex notions of obligation, duty and reciprocity, suggesting that a subsidy could potentially intrude upon complex private family relationships. However, the evidence suggests that care was negotiated differently depending on whether it was provided by a grandparent or other family and friends, with lone parents tending to favour paying for childcare provided by other family and friends than grandparents. This has implications for a state subsidy, which needs further investigation.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 2006 The Author(s). This is an author produced version of a paper published in Social Policy and Administration. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.
Keywords: lone parents,informal childcare,negotiation,grandparents,working tax credit,childcare subsidy
Institution: The University of York
Academic Units: The University of York > Social Policy and Social Work (York)
The University of York > Social Policy Research Unit (York)
Depositing User: Repository Officer
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2006
Last Modified: 24 Apr 2016 05:48
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9515.2006.00534.x
Status: Published
Refereed: Yes
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/1807

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