Childcare Costs Can Mean 'It Doesn't Pay To Work'

The cost of childcare is rising so quickly that for many families "it simply does not pay to work", a report has concluded.

The price of a part-time nursery place for a child under two has gone up by almost a third in the last five years with parents now being forced to pay more than £6,000 a year.

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

That is 5.1% more than last year and 32.8% more than in 2010.

Parents who employ child minders are also paying more. The average cost of £104.06 per week is up 4.3% on last year.

"The reality is that for too many families it simply does not pay to work," the report said.

At Kidz R Us day nursery in Salford, Greater Manchester, parents told Sky News that paying for childcare takes up a significant portion of their income.

Mother-of-three Jennifer Lee said: "I'm a full time teacher and my partner's a fireman. You'd expect with two decent salaries to be able to cope financially, but it is difficult."

Amy Cooke said more than half her salary goes on paying for part-time childcare for her 15-month-old daughter Lilah.

If she has any more children or if nursery prices rise further she may have leave her job.

"I'd probably have to give up work and do it that way because my entire wage would go on childcare, so it wouldn't be worth it."

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," he said.

"In the run-up to the General Election this May we want to see all political parties commit to an independent review of childcare. Britain needs a simple system that promotes quality, supports parents and delivers for children."

The issue of childcare costs is likely to feature highly in the coming months, with politicians keen to use today's report to score political points.

The Lib Dems today announced children aged between nine months and two years could get 15 hours of free childcare if the the party is still in government in May, saving an average family with two working parents £2,670 a year.

Labour's shadow minister for childcare and children, Alison McGovern MP, said "These figures lay bare the extent of David Cameron’s failure - he is badly letting down working families.

"Since 2010 the failing Tory plan has seen the costs of childcare soar. On top of this, there are over 40,000 fewer childcare places and wages are down £1,600 a year on average."

A spokesperson for the Department for Education said: "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."

However, the headline figure in the report only refers to children under two, whose parents are not entitled to the free childcare hours.

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