Parents spending 'twice as much' on part-time childcare as on food and drink

Parents are spending almost twice as much on part-time childcare as they do on food and drink per year, according to new research.

Twenty-five hours of nursery care for a child under two costs families an average of £116 per week, totalling more than £6,000 per year.

The survey of local authority Family Information Services across Britain by the Family and Childcare Trust found that part-time nursery care was most expensive in Inner London, costing an average of £154.08 for 25 hours. Yorkshire and Humber was the lowest at £100.95.

It revealed that some families spend up to 45% of their disposable income on childcare costs, while others spent all of a parent's earnings on childcare.

The research also found a shortage of childcare for parents working full-time, with half of areas in England providing enough.

Yet for parents who do not work typical office hours, one in eight areas provided sufficient care, while 18% of areas had enough childcare for families with disabled children.

Childminder prices increased 1.9% above inflation since 2016 and nursery prices over the same period rose by 0.1%.

Parents pay an average of £67 per week for pick-up and afternoon care by a childminder for their primary-school aged child, while after school clubs set parents back an average of £53 a week.

The charity is calling on the government to ensure every parent is better off working after childcare costs, and to improve access to childcare for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Ellen Broome, deputy chief executive at the Family and Childcare Trust said it was a "disgrace" that "so many parents are effectively shut out of the workplace by crippling childcare costs".

"Recent governments have rightfully invested in childcare, but too many parents are still struggling to find and pay for childcare that they and their children need."

She added: "The Government must closely monitor the roll out of the 30 hour offer and tax free childcare to make sure that all children can access high quality childcare and all parents can make real choices about how they work and care for their children."

Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner said there were "not enough places to meet demand", adding: "When parents working full-time are spending almost half their income on childcare, it's clear the Tories are failing to deliver fair, affordable and sustainable childcare for hardworking families.

"The survey shows that the Tory election promise to provide 30 hours free childcare is now in further trouble with many local authorities reporting major shortages of available places."

National Day Nurseries Association's chief executive Purnima Tanuku said the report "makes hard reading for ministers ahead of their heralded 30 hours 'free' childcare policy, clearly putting it at risk of failure".

"The report paints a picture of a childcare market in peril, with only a third of councils confident they have sufficient childcare to fulfil this policy."

Cllr Richard Watts, chair of the Local Government Association's Children and Young People Board, said: "Councils are committed to ensuring that parents have access to high quality, flexible childcare so that all children get the best start in life.

"From September, councils and providers will be delivering the Government's commitment to an additional 15 hours of free childcare for working parents, bringing the total to 30 hours.

"However, councils remain concerned that the proposed increase in funding will not be enough to secure this provision for everyone who wants it."

A Department for Education spokesman said: "Helping working families with the cost of childcare is at the heart of this government's agenda - that's why we are investing a record £6 billion per year by 2020.

"The Government has a package of support for parents, which includes doubling our free childcare offer for three and four-year-olds to 30 hours a week, saving families around £5,000 per year.

"A number of areas are delivering the 30 hours offer a year early which is benefiting over 4,000 parents already, many of whom do not work the traditional 9-5."

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