Many parents 'paying more for childcare than average mortgage'

 
child The report said that the current system is not working for anyone

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Many parents in Britain are paying more for childcare annually than the average mortgage bill, according to a report.

The Family and Childcare Trust's annual report says average fees for one child in part-time nursery and another in an after-school club are £7,549 per year.

Full-time childcare cost for a family with a two-year-old and a five-year-old child are estimated at £11,700 a year.

The report compares the costs to the average annual UK mortgage payment, which was estimated at £7,207 in 2012.

The trust says childcare in England, Wales and Scotland is becoming increasingly unaffordable with a 27% rise in costs since 2009, while wages have remained static.

This is despite successive governments recognising its value to children, families, society and the economy and spending £6bn on supporting childcare every year, it adds.

The report notes that during the course of the current Parliament, the government will have put an additional £1bn into supporting childcare.

Mother-of-three Lynne Keeble said she had to give up her job because the childcare costs ''didn't add up''

All children in England, Scotland and Wales qualify for part-time free early education in the term after their third birthday.

In England, they receive 570 free hours every year, but even with this help some parents are contributing a substantial part of their income to childcare.

In 2012, only Swiss parents contributed a higher share of their salary than British parents, who on average spent 26.6%.

Rising nursery costs

25 hours/wk for child under two ()

Year Cost ()
Source: Family and Childcare Trust
201088
201197
2012103
2013109
2014111

The average costs for all OECD countries is 11.8% of parental net income.

The report said that the current system was not working for anyone.

"Children are losing out on vital early education and families remain trapped in poverty because they cannot make work pay.

"Childcare providers struggle with debts. Women fail to return to the labour market after they have children and the economy loses their skills and their taxes."

The study is based on information gathered by the trust from local authority family or children's information services in England, Wales and Scotland.

Lynne Keeble gave up her job because she was paying for before and after-school care as well as a full-time childminder for her three children.

She said she was forced to quit a job in London she loved because of the costs of childcare for her children, aged six, four and one.

girls in nursery Better use of school premises and children's centres for childcare is urged

"You can't go to work and then have nothing at the end of the month to show for it," she said.

Anand Shukla, chief executive at the Family and Childcare Trust, called on the government to extend early free education to all two-year-olds.

He said the government was currently funding childcare for some families with incomes of up to £300,000 a year.

"We would weight it differently to get some funding to lower income families", he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

But this measure is opposed by some.

Stephen Davies, of the Institute for Economic Affairs, said: "If you have taken the decision to have a child - which these days is a voluntary decision - why should you then expect other people, in the shape of the taxpayer, to help pick up some of the costs of that decision?"

'Costs stabilising'

Education and childcare minister Elizabeth Truss said the survey showed that costs in England had fallen for the first time in 12 years in line with her department's Early Years Parent Survey from earlier this year. The drop in England was about £15 over the past year.

Mother of three

Lynne Keeble gave up her job three weeks ago, because she couldn't afford childcare while she worked part-time.

She said: "I was working three days a week, working quite hard, commuting to London and I love my job, I really enjoy my job, I've been there eight years.

"But we found that the numbers just didn't add up for us.

"I think working's really important; it's important to me as an individual that I go to work. It's important that the children see both their parents working and we want the best start in life for our children.

"So to make the cost of childcare so unaffordable, I feel I was in an impossible situation really, I had no choice."

"This means more parents are able to access affordable childcare and support their families", she said.

However, Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-School Learning Alliance, said cost reductions were due "entirely to the efforts of early years providers" and not because of government efforts.

He said: "For the government to attribute this positive trend to their own 'reforms' is completely disingenuous."

Lucy Powell, Labour's shadow minister for childcare and children, said childcare costs under the coalition government "are soaring, adding pressure to family life and shutting parents out of work".

Scotland's minister for children and young people, Aileen Campbell, said while average costs were lower in Scotland than in England and Wales the issue "remains a significant challenge for many parents".

"That's why we're acting now, delivering increased and more flexible early learning and childcare of 600 hours a year for three and four-year-olds and the most vulnerable two-year-olds from August," the minister said.

Liz Bayram, chief executive of the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years, added: "To help more parents access affordable, high quality childcare, government needs to invest appropriately in childcare and recognise the economic benefit of supporting families to balance work and caring responsibilities."

Average weekly childcare costs, 2014 (£)

Region/nation Nursery 25 hours (under 2) Nursery 25 hours (2 and over) Childminder 25 hours (under 2) Childminder (2 and over) After-school club 15 hours

Source: Family and Childcare Trust

East of England

111.90

105.02

121.28

120.45

51.13

East Midlands

94.30

97.19

86.27

86.05

46.48

London

140.12

136.93

136.40

138.77

49.04

North-east England

108.24

102.66

90.88

90.09

49.52

North-west England

98.00

97.58

84.81

89.27

49.27

South-east England

130.08

121.58

110.32

115.86

47.68

South-west England

109.70

104.96

100.48

99.54

50.75

West Midlands

112.17

101.85

85.52

82.85

46.85

Yorkshire & Humberside

94.03

87.94

90.68

90.75

44.84

England

110.95

106.19

100.74

101.51

48.40

Scotland

106.04

102.06

95.59

96.84

49.54

Wales

103.17

102.28

94.24

94.24

45.98

Britain average

109.89

105.52

99.77

100.52

48.19

 

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  • rate this
    +45

    Comment number 908.

    When my wife went back to work 3 days/week at her professional job her salary only just covered the nursery costs.

    The problem is the whole strategy of both parents working is fundamentally wrong. One parent should stay with the children. It's better for them and there are more jobs to go round. The cost of living adjusts to the average total household income anyway.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 907.

    Perhaps we need to normalise the 3 day working week so each parent can spend 2 days looking after the children, with the fifth day covered by childcare or other arrangements. Will ensure both parents share the job equally and improve their work-life balance.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 902.

    Some families are fortunate to have grandparents around to look after their grandchildren. However, the way the government keep moving the goal posts by raising the age of retirement there will come a time when this resource simply won't be available for many.

  • rate this
    -9

    Comment number 765.

    My wife and I had a child just over two years ago, we currently pay just over £11k a year. We are waiting till our son turns three so that we are eligible for the free hours the government provides.

    When our son turns three we will start trying for the second child. Our age is a factor now as we are both mid-30s and do not wish to be bringing up a newborn when we are in our 40s.

  • rate this
    +86

    Comment number 472.

    One of the first questions me and my partner asked ourselves was can we really afford a baby. Nobody seems to do this anymore and EXPECTS everything for free!Nobody is prepared,or they just lack common sense.Our child care fee's for our 1 month old baby is £7,500 p.a. We are not high earners,we work 40 hrs. and I pick up 15-20hrs extra. We can afford 1 child so that all we plan on having.

 

Comments 5 of 13

 

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