One would think that a recovering economy, not to mention heavy government spending, would facilitate a reduction in childcare costs; however, according to a new survey by the Family and Childcare Trust, the cost of a part-time nursery place for a child under two has increased by an inflation-busting 33 per cent over this Parliament.
Overall, the cost for all types of childcare for under-fives has risen by at least 27 per cent in the last Parliament.
The charity also reveals that the same nursery place has for the first time broken through the £6,000-a-year barrier, averaging at £115.45 a week across Britain. This represents a rise of 5.1 per cent in just one year. The average cost of part-time care from a childminder has also risen by 4.3 per cent in the last year, and now costs £104.06 per week or £5,411 a year.
This is crazy! Not even the extra support for parents through the new tax-free voucher scheme and a commitment to raise the amount of childcare support in Universal Credit seems to have helped.
Parents in the East Midlands have seen the steepest rises, with part-time nursery care for the under-twos costing an average of £118.82 a week, a 26 per cent increase since 2014. And this year, for the first time outside of London, some of the very lowest income parents who claim help with childcare costs through Working Tax Credits will find the maximum amount they can claim – £175 a week – will not cover even their part-time childcare costs, and could leave them out of pocket by a minimum of £52.50 a week.
As well as an independent review of childcare, the Family and Childcare Trust is calling on any incoming government in the next Parliament to:
- Merge Universal Credit support for childcare with the tax-free childcare scheme to create a single and fair system;
- Extend free early education to cover all two year olds and for 48 weeks of the year for all two, three and four year olds;
- Make early education and childcare a legal entitlement for parents, bringing it in line with right to a school place;
- Overhaul the free early education funding formula for three and four year olds to make it more responsive to social factors.
What is almost a certainty is that if things stay the way they are couples will be put off having more than one child if any children at all!
For more detailed info in the Family and Childcare Trust’s research, CLICK HERE.