Hardworking parents torpedoed by stubbornly high childcare costs

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British parents now pay an eye-watering average of £116 per week for a part time nursery place- or over £6,000 every year, more than double what families spend on food and drink in a year, according to new research by the Family and Childcare Trust.

In its 16th annual Childcare Survey, the charity reveals that although there is some reprieve for families as nursery prices held steady and childminder prices rose just above inflation at 1.9 per cent, this will be scarce relief for families who can be spending up to 45 per cent of their disposable income on average childcare costs.

Parents claiming benefits moving into minimum wage jobs can take home as little as £1.96 an hour after paying for childcare. And some families will spend all of parent’s earnings on childcare meaning that working does not make them better off.

Parents in Inner London pay the highest price for childcare – £154 per week for a part time place, or a third more than the national average.

Costs also aren’t the only problem: many parents can’t find the childcare they need. In England, only half of areas have enough childcare for parents working full time. The gaps are even bigger for parents who do not work typical office hours, where only one in eight areas have enough care. Families with disabled children are also likely to struggle: only 18 per cent of areas have enough childcare for them.

Ellen Broomé, deputy chief executive at the Family and Childcare Trust said:

“It is a disgrace that so many parents are effectively shut out of the workplace by crippling childcare costs. Recent Governments have rightfully invested in childcare, but too many parents are still struggling to find and pay for childcare that they and their children need.

“Childcare is as vital as the rails and roads for helping our country to run: it boosts children’s outcomes throughout life and helps parents work. We need a strategy to make sure that every parent is better off working after they have paid for childcare.

“The Government must closely monitor the roll out of the 30 hour offer and tax free childcare to make sure that all children can access high quality childcare and all parents can make real choices about how they work and care for their children.”

As well as a childcare strategy that meets children and parents’ needs, the Family and Childcare Trust is calling on the Government to make sure that every parent will be better off working after childcare costs and review funding for free childcare entitlements every year based on evidence of the costs of providing high quality provision

They are also calling for improved access to childcare for children with special educational needs and disabilities and improved information for parents about local childcare provision, including up to date prices and availability

 

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