Childcare costs: Parents 'see rise of £5 a week'

babies The report says 25 hours of nursery care for a child under two is up from £102.05 a week to £106.38

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Average childcare costs across England, Scotland and Wales rose by £5 a week (or 6%) per child in a year, according to the Daycare Trust's annual survey.

The report, based on figures submitted by Family Information Services, says average weekly costs of care for children of all ages rose from £85.93 per child in 2011 to £90.97 in 2012.

The average full-time nursery place for a child under two cost £11,000 a year.

The government said its reforms would improve quality and reduce costs.

In January, Children's Minister Liz Truss announced nurseries and childminders in England would be allowed to look after more children.

She said the proposals would make more childcare places available and reduce costs for parents in the "long term".

Above inflation

But the report by the Daycare Trust and the Family and Parenting Institute said "root and branch reforms" were needed to give children the best start and help parents to work.

The report said childcare costs were "rising at significantly above the rate of inflation in England".

ANALYSIS

An increase in average childcare costs of £5 a week per child will hit many working families, already struggling with frozen wages and higher household bills.

The rise in costs (6%) is more than double the rate of inflation, currently 2.7%. Parents can expect to pay around £5,530 a year for 25 hours a week of nursery care (£5,100 for a childminder) for a child under the age of two.

At the extreme, parents could pay up to £14,000 a year, but this would be for full-time care for a child under two at a London-based nursery.

While childcare fees for pre-school age children are undoubtedly the most crippling for the parental purse, parents of school-age children have not escaped the squeeze.

After-school club costs rose 9% (£4.14) between 2011-12 and 2012-13, from £45.53 to £49.67 for 15 hours of care a week.

"Over a 10-year period, a nursery place for a child aged two or under is now 62% more expensive than it was in 2003.

"However, average earnings in real terms are now at similar levels to those of 2002-03."

In England, 25 hours of nursery-based care for under-twos cost an average of £108.51 in 2012-13 (compared with £103.19 in 2011-12). In Scotland there was a slight fall in average costs from £101.49 to £101.19. And in Wales costs were up a penny on the previous year at £92.36.

All three countries saw significant rises in the cost of after-school clubs - from £45.81 to £49.71 for 15 hours of care per child in England, from £48.55 to £50.46 in Scotland and from £40.05 to £48.46 in Wales.

The study also found:

  • Childminder costs in Britain have increased by 5.9% for a child under the age of two - from £92.68 in 2011-12, for 25 hours of care, to £98.15 in 2012-13
  • Childminder costs have risen by 5.2% for 25 hours of care for a child aged two and above - from £91.87 to £96.67
  • London nurseries were the most expensive for under-twos, where 25 hours of care cost £133.17
  • The average cost of after-school clubs in 2012-13 was £49.67 per week, up 9% from £45.53 the previous year
  • After-school clubs in the East Midlands were the most expensive, at £56.51 a week
  • The biggest rise in childcare costs was in after-school clubs in the east of England, where charges rose 38%, from £43.96 to £50.74

The report suggests many parents used other members of the family for childcare.

A quarter of families (26%) relied on grandparents to provide childcare during term-time, while 5% used other relatives and 4% older siblings.

Friends and neighbours provided a childcare network for 7% of families.

'Difficult for parents'

WHAT ARE AFTER-SCHOOL CLUBS?

children

After-school clubs provide childcare for working parents who cannot pick up their children at the end of the school day.

Providers of clubs pick-up children, give them a snack and run activities.

They may be run by a school's governing body, but are generally operated by private contractors. The clubs offer childcare within the school grounds or at another venue such as a church hall.

After-school clubs are regulated and inspected by the watchdog, Ofsted, to ensure adequate standards of care and safeguarding are met.

Inspectors assess issues such as protecting children from harm, how children are kept healthy and the club's organisation.

Anand Shukla, chief executive of Daycare Trust and the Family and Parenting Institute, said: "While wages stay still and childcare becomes more expensive, it's increasingly difficult for parents - and mothers in particular - to make work pay.

"We are particularly concerned that the steepest price increases this year - at 9% - is in childcare for school-age children, which is as important as care for the under-fives in allowing parents to work.

"We know that the government wants to reduce the cost of childcare to parents. But we are deeply concerned about proposals to relax ratios because this risks compromising quality, safety and children's development.

"We urge the government in this year's Budget to find ways to support parents with the costs of childcare."

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said: "We are reforming the childcare system so that providers have more flexibility when they have highly qualified staff and childminders are better supported.

"Ratio changes, which are not compulsory, will allow providers to have the flexibility to increase pay for better qualified workers.

"High-quality providers will be able to expand and more childminders will enter the market - this will mean parents have more affordable childcare.

"We want to help working families with costs and accessibility, and will make an announcement soon."

Shadow children's minister Sharon Hodgson said: "[Prime Minister] David Cameron has created a childcare crisis. On his watch, we've seen costs spiral, support for families cut back and over 400 children's centres close.

"This report shows parents are really struggling to find affordable childcare in their local communities."

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