Britain’s parents are paying 5% more for childcare for the under-twos than they were one year ago, a survey by Coram Family and Childcare has found.
The comprehensive survey of childcare costs found that parents have been hit by childcare costs rising well ahead of inflation, and are now paying an average of £131.61 per week, or more than £6,800 per year, for a part-time nursery place.
The survey also revealed that parents face a ‘postcode lottery’, with childcare prices and availability varying significantly across the country.
The most expensive regions in the UK are London and the South East, where the cost of a part-time nursery place for a child under two is £165.47 and £144.90 per week respectively, compared to the least expensive regions, £116.25 in the West Midlands and £113.76 in Yorkshire and Humberside.
Even where parents can afford childcare, many will struggle to find it, with availability little improved on last year. In England, just over half (56%) of local authorities have enough childcare for parents working full-time, compared to 57% in 2019.
Some families face even bigger gaps, as fewer than one in five local authorities in England have enough childcare available for children aged 12-14, children with disabilities and parents working outside regular office hours.
Across England, the East Midlands and East of England report the lowest levels of availability across these areas.
Claire Harding, head of Coram Family and Childcare, said today’s report highlights that while most families can get some support with their childcare costs through cost subsidies or free entitlements, the system is too complicated.
‘Good childcare is essential; it enables parents to work and boosts children’s learning. But for far too many families in the UK, it just isn’t working.
‘Recent government investment is welcome, but many families still face crippling costs, especially in the period from the end of parental leave to when a child turns three.
‘There are seven different types of childcare support depending on families’ individual circumstances, and many parents find it difficult just to find out what’s available to them.
‘Investing in childcare supports is good for us all because it helps parents to work now, and boosts children’s learning and skills for our future.
‘We’re calling on government to reform and simplify the childcare system so every parent is better off working after paying for childcare, and every child has access to childcare which supports their learning and development.’
Cllr Judith Blake, chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People board, said: ‘Councils work closely with childcare providers to make sure that parents can get the childcare they need.
‘Unfortunately, we know many providers are struggling, as funding for free early childcare fails to cover the costs of delivery.
‘We also know that parents and carers can find it difficult to know what help they’re entitled to or which type of support would be best for them, so we support calls to simplify the system to make sure that children and families don’t miss out.
‘Recent uplifts to the funding rate for providers are helpful, but for many, this will fail to cover increasing running costs such as the higher minimum wage.
‘We urge the government to use the upcoming Budget to invest vital funding into making sure parents and carers can access the right childcare when they need it.
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