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Working parents with children under five have seen nursery fees rise three times faster than their wages over the past decade, according to new TUC analysis.
The analysis shows that childcare costs have risen by 52% per week since 2008 for families with a full-time and a part-time working parent. Over the same period their wages have gone up by just 17%. It adds that childcare costs for a single mum or dad working full time have risen seven times faster than earnings.
The TUC says fees in England are now on average £236 a week for a child under two in nursery, compared to £159 in 2008 and £232 a week for a child over two in nursery, compared to £149 in 2008.
It adds that the rise in costs relative to earning was worst in the West Midlands, followed by the South East and the North East.
The analysis shows that despite government support a family on average earnings (with a parent working full time and a parent working part time) has to pay more than £4,700 a year to cover fees.
A low-income working family (with a parent working full time and a parent working part time) needs to find nearly £2,000 a year. A single parent on average earnings (working full time) pays just over £6,000. A single parent on average earnings (working part time) has to pay £1,900 for childcare.
Ellen Broomé from Coram Family and Childcare said: “We know that high quality childcare boosts children’s outcomes, benefits the economy and allows parents to make genuine choices about work and care. But in the last year alone, childcare costs have risen by 7%. Urgent action is needed to make sure all parents are better off working after paying for childcare.”
The TUC is calling for subsidised, affordable childcare from as soon as maternity leave finishes to plug the gap before government support kicks in for the most disadvantaged children at age two; more government funding for local authorities to provide nurseries and childcare; a greater role for employers in funding childcare, either through direct subsidy to employees or the provision of on-site childcare facilities; and an increase the childcare support provided by tax credits and Universal Credit, including by reversing cuts to the UC work allowance and scrapping the two child policy for new claimants.