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Working mums in the South of England have to work 42 hours a year more than those in the North to cover their childcare costs – equivalent to an additional week’s work for most mums, according to analysis of average earnings and childcare costs by Family Investments, a supplier of financial solutions for the family.
Regionally the differences are even greater, according to the analysis. Mums working full time in the South West earn an average of £10.72 an hour and need to work a total of 18 weeks a year (or 674 hours) before they break even and meet their childminder or nursery costs which amount to an average of £7,228 over a year.
Mums in the West Midlands earn an average of £10.97 an hour and need to work for 15 weeks a year (or 554 hours) before they cover their costs which are equivalent to an average of £6,086 a year.
The analysis is based on childminder and nursery cost data from local authorities across the country as well as earnings data from the Office of National Statistics. Outside of England, the analysis found that mums working full-time in Wales need to work for 17.6 weeks before they break even on their childcare costs, while those in Scotland have to work for 16.8 weeks.
Kate Moore, Head of Savings and Investments at Family Investments said: “In the North versus South stakes, affordability of care means mums in the North have to work fewer hours before their care costs are met and the difference is equivalent to a week a year. The differences in affordability of childcare are even greater when you dig down and look at the regions with mums in the West Midlands having to work significantly fewer hours before they break even on their childcare costs than those in the South West.
“These figures highlight the very significant costs mums face if they choose to return to work after maternity leave and the fact that they will spend up to four months of the year simply working towards these costs. Mums can get up to 15 hours of care per week for free once their child turns three, but for the first couple of years parents must saddle these costs on their own.
“What really jumps out from these figures is both the scale of the costs involved and the disparities in local affordability. It is important that the government address this disparity which at present means, parents in some parts of the country find childcare, much less affordable than others. We hope that the government acknowledge this issue in the Childcare Commission which is due to report back soon and we believe further research is required to determine why these regional disparities exist.”