High childcare costs are damaging UK economic prospects

Childcare costs increased by almost 20% in the last year, according to childcare organisation
The site compiled a report that used information from 230,000 childcare organisations to gauge their usage and costs over 2013.
And the company found that the costs of nannies and other childcare facilities rose by 19% between December 2012 and 2013.
This is despite the fact that the Department for Education released a statement recently that disclosed that childcare prices were beginning to steady after years of constant increases.
Nanny prices were indicated to be the area of childcare that experienced the highest price rises with the 2012 average of £6.59 an hour rising to a high £8.73 last year. This represents a 25% increase over the course of the last year and has been forwarded to explain the growing number of parents using zero contract hours in order to work round their children.
Childcare costs rose by an average of 19% in the year to December 2013, according to a childcare website.
Findababysitterís chief executive, Tom Harrow, identified that fees for childcare have become "incrementally harder (to pay) for parents each year", and has cited the lack of supply to meet demand as a reason why costs have remained high.
The accuracy of the study has come under scrutiny however as it has emerged that it did not take into account nursery costs, and the number of free nursery initiatives that have been set up in the last few years. Currently, all children who are aged between three and four are entitled to free nurseries whilst childcare places are available to younger children as well. 
Economic prospects damaged
Liz Bayram, an employee at  the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years, said that she believed that childcare costs had likely increased far less than the 19% estimation given, but still warned that the lack of affordable childcare available to young families was impacting their financial ability to pay for rising commodities such as travel, energy and housing costs.
"Childcarers are among the poorest-paid professionals," she says, adding that "more current government funding should be delivered directly to families rather than getting lost in the system", Mrs Bayram said.
Meanwhile, Labour have criticised the current administration for not doing enough to boost parents capacity to acquire childcare, arguing that current prices are ëlocking out parents who wish to bet back to workí.
The Department for Education has rejected this criticism however, pointing to their implementation of increased free nursery schooling for all three and four year olds a country as a clear sign that they are taking positive steps to address the issue.
Last year, the number of hours free nursery schooling was offered for infants was increased to 15 hours each week- up from the 12.5 hours previously provided.
And the Department for Education said that they would now be releasing tax-free childcare in which families would be granted £1200 of savings from the government in order to improve their capacity to obtain childcare for the children.
Earlier this month, the Trade Unionís congress called for grandparents to be given greater flexibility when requesting unpaid leave so that parents had another childcare option available to them when considering their careers. It has been estimated that almost 7 million grandparents currently fulfil a childcare role in the UK at the moment, with the Trade Unionís Congress echoing Labourís sentiments by arguing that granting them unpaid leave would boost the countryís economic prospects. 
This is because parents would be less limited in their employment scope, and would be able to apply for jobs that demand longer hours and pay more as a result of not having to worry about their children after a certain point in the day.
A TUC spokesperson said: "The childcare provided by grandparents allows mums and dads to work, saves them money on nursery and childminder fees, and creates a special bond across different generations in a family.
"Many businesses have yet to keep up with this trend and thousands of grandparents who want to look after their grandkids are prevented from doing so. It's important that public policy catches up with the needs of working grandparents and their families."
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