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Parents in London face a harder time than families anywhere else in the country when it comes to finding and paying for childcare, a new report shows.
Daycare Trust’s ‘2012 London childcare report’ reveals, for the first time, the particular factors which together are causing a growing childcare crisis in the capital. It says:
– Childcare in London is on average 20 per cent more expensive than anywhere else in the country, with London parents on average spending over £6,000 a year on a part-time childcare place in a nursery.
– London families are the least likely to be able to rely on relatives to help with childcare. Just 18 per cent of London parents turn to grandparents to help look after their children, compared with 32 per cent of families across Britain as a whole.
– Take up of the free early education offer, of 15 hours free childcare for three and four year olds, is lower in London than anywhere else in England. Figures published last week show that while 96 of eligible children across the country accessed their free place, only 87 per cent in inner London did so, with the rate falling to below 80 per cent in two London boroughs.
– London is a 24/7 city with many of its jobs requiring evening or weekend work, but there is very little childcare outside normal office hours available across the 33 London boroughs.
Meanwhile, says the report, despite the fact that London’s female population is the best qualified in the UK, the percentage of London working age women in work is the lowest, at 60.5%. It also states that 26 per cent of London children live in workless households, and four in ten London children are living in poverty.
Anand Shukla, Chief Executive of Daycare Trust said: “For the first time, the 2012 London childcare report highlights the childcare crisis facing London families. Families are being faced with a combination of trends from high childcare prices to a lack of family support, which conspire to prevent London families from accessing the childcare that they need to balance their work and family commitments. This report underlines the urgent need for the Mayor and London councils to make childcare a priority and tackle this growing crisis.
“We are calling on the Mayor to publicise the free childcare support available to families and to work with the business community to make London a more family-friendly city. Local authorities must fulfil their legal requirement to ensure sufficient childcare is available when families need it, including outside typical office hours – a duty which most fail to provide.”