The Family and Childcare Trust have conducted an annual survey into the cost of childcare. It shows that putting a toddler in a nursery simply on a part-time basis has increased by roughly a third in the space of five years. It is now costing £6000 per annum on average which is a huge £1533 increase from 2010.
The government have responded by arguing that they have ensured that more free childcare is accessible to three and four-year olds. However, there are still huge deficits in childcare. The report is based on 196 UK local authorities and surveys the cost of childcare in both local nurseries and that done by childminders.
In fact, it has been revealed in a recent investigation that for many families it is better financially for one parent to take time off work to look after their child rather than put them into care. This is bearing in mind that many of these families will already be using working tax credits to pay for childcare.
The survey has found that a nursery place for a child under the age of two for only 25 hours each week is costing £115.45 in the United Kingdom. For children aged 2 and above, part-time nursery costs average out at £109.83 each week. The cost of a childminder for the latter age group is £103.04 per week.
The rise in costs for under-two childcare has been attributed to two factors. The first is that it is a response to the cutting of prices during the recession which has now passed and thus they are rising back up. Secondly, parents are in effect bankrolling the free places offered by the government for underprivileged two-year olds.
Further to this, the investigation has found that there is an increasing problem with simply providing any childcare. It shows that only 43% of councils in England were meeting the legal requirement to offer childcare to employed parents, this is down 11% from just last year.
The drop in childcare on offer to these families has been attributed to a number of reasons. There has been in an increase in the amount of employed parents, with 382,000 women going back to work from September to November in 2014. Furthermore, there is lack of childcare on offer for older children overall because more is being given to two-year old children and specially those who meet the requirements for free early education.
The report states: ìOver the last five years, while there have been deep cuts to other public services, the coalition government has increased the spending on childcare. But despite this welcome investment, this yearís survey, the 14th in the series, finds childcare prices have continued to increase and the gaps in provision remain unfilled. The reality is that for too many families it simply does not pay to work.î
The survey is released at a time when the Liberal Democrats are about to announce their childcare policies. Their leader, Nick Clegg, is set to reaffirm the partyís vow to offer 15 hours of free childcare per week to working parents with children from nine months to two years. Furthermore, he will highlight their dream to offer free childcare for all children between two and four years for a total of 20 hours each week.
The shadow minister for childcare and children, Alison McGovern responded to the Trustís survey by stating: ìSince 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 £1600 a year on average.î