London parents face childcare struggle

Lack of childcare and high costs are making life difficult for London parents, according to a new report.



Nearly two in three local authorities in London do not have enough childcare for children aged 5-11, according to new research from Coram Family and Childcare.

Its report, ‘School age childcare in London’, also found that the cost of childcare makes working longer hours make little difference to earnings for those on low wages, particularly those claiming Universal Credit.

It shows that the annual cost of school age childcare is £3,250 a year in London – an increase of a third in the last decade; and that the cost of a full week of term time childcare is equivalent to over a fifth of earnings from a full-time week of work at the National Minimum Wage, while holiday childcare costs nearly half of earnings.

The report also reveals huge variations in the availability of breakfast and after school clubs between London boroughs, with primary schools in some areas more than twice as likely to provide a breakfast club as in others. On top of this patchy availability, children with special educational needs or a disability (SEND) are even less likely to be able to access reliable childcare, according to Coram Family and Childcare’s interviews with parents.

Coram Family and Childcare is calling for reforms from the Government to improve childcare provision, cost and quality, including switching to upfront payment for Universal Credit and raising the childcare element to 100% of costs, rather than the current 85%; dedicating funding to schools to guarantee the provision of all school age children in term time and holidays, working in collaboration with the voluntary and private sectors; and introducing inclusion funding for school age children to increase the number of childcare providers that can offer care to SEND children.

Megan Jarvie, Head of Coram Family and Childcare, said: “London parents who want or need to go out to work are struggling to find or afford the childcare they need. High costs, inadequate financial support and patchy availability of childcare act as a toxic combination for working parents. We need central, regional and local government to work together to implement solutions that support families.”

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