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Childcare costs are ‘hitting the value of work’

When it comes to childcare “it simply does not pay to work”, according to a major report.

 

The annual survey, carried out by the Family and Childcare Trust, has found that on average in England, Scotland and Wales sending a child to nursery for 25 hours a week costs £115.45.

Stephen Dunmore, chief executive of the Family and Childcare Trust, has welcomed Government investment in childcare but says more needs to be done.

“In spite of several positive initiatives, including more funding for free early education, the childcare system in Britain needs radical reform.

“In the run-up to the general election this May we want to see all political parties commit to an independent review of childcare.

The rising costs mean that parents are now forced to fork out on average around £6,000 a year to send their toddler to nursery part-time.

That is just over 5 per cent more than last year and around 33 per cent more than in 2010.

According to the Trust this is the first time that these costs have broken through this barrier.

It seems the cost of a part-time childminder is also up – more than 4 per cent on last year at an average cost of £104.06 or £5,411 a year.

The report said: “Over the last five years, while there have been deep cuts to other public services, the coalition Government has increased spending on childcare.”

A Department for Education spokesman said: “We understand that the cost of childcare can be an issue for many parents, but this report only relates to the prices parents pay after they receive the Government’s offer of 15 hours of free childcare.

“It therefore neglects the record amount of fully funded childcare we are giving – savings worth a maximum of almost £9,000 per child.”

The report suggests that there are two reasons for the hikes in prices for under-twos in England.

Firstly, nurseries and childminders putting up their prices after keeping them down during the recession, and secondly, parents paying more per hour to subsidise the Government’s free places for disadvantaged two-year-olds.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said it was unsurprising that costs are still rising.

“For many years now, government funding for the free entitlement schemes for two-, three- and four-year-olds has failed to meet the cost of the providing these places, leaving childcare providers to make up the shortfall.

“The Alliance has long warned that a failure to address this shortfall would lead to cost rises, but the Department for Education has consistently chosen to ignore this problem. Clearly, this cannot continue.”

He has called for a review of the free entitlement funding system.

Family Matters Institute Chief Executive Officer, Christopher Muwanguzi commented “It’s great that this governement currently offers 15 hours of free childcare. However, this isn’t enough and we’d like to see the political parties introducing more child- and family-friendly policies to encourage parents who need and want to work to return to employment.”

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