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British parents now pay an 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 has been some reprieve for families as nursery prices have held steady and childminder prices rose just above inflation at 1.9 per cent, families may still be spending up to 45 per cent of their disposable income on average childcare costs.
It says 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 their earnings on childcare, meaning that working does not make them better off.
The report says parents in Inner London pay the highest price for childcare – £154 per week for a part time place – a third more than the national average.
The Trust says availability of childcare is also a problem. 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. Moreover, only 18 per cent of areas have enough childcare for disabled children.
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: