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Who cares for average couple?

The McKinnop-O'Shea family from the Wirral is stuck in a trap common to many others.

Denise, a part-time social worker, and husband Michael, a civil servant, bring home a combined salary of around pound;30,000, and do not qualify for much government help.

With two children, six-year-old Ciaran and Brendan, who is four, and another baby on the way, they had to put their children in private nurseries at Pounds 30 a day until they were old enough for school.

Mrs McKinnop-O'Shea said: "Financially, it's like a second mortgage. If we were on an incredibly good income we would have a lot of options. We could get a nanny. If we were on a very low income, very often you can get more help through working families' tax credits, and so on.

"Friends of mine in similar situations all say that if you are on an average income there isn't any help available.

"It's just myself and my husband. We're both Irish and we don't have any family here, which I think has major implications for childcare."

Her wish-list from the Government is brief. "Money would be nice," she said.

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