UK childcare costs soaring

2006

The cost of a typical full-time nursery place in England has increased by more than a quarter over the past five years, according to figures from national childcare charity Daycare Trust.

The 27 per cent rise outstrips inflation by nearly 20 per cent and means that a typical full-time nursery place for a child under two in Great Britain now costs £142 a week – more than £7,300 a year.

Parents paying the highest costs uncovered by the survey could be paying almost £21,000 a year for a full-time nursery place.

The highest childcare costs in the survey were found in London and the South East of England, with a nursery place for a child under two typically costing £197 a week in inner London.

Some childminders in London and the South East are charging £500 a week per child, the survey found.

But this is the only region of the country where there has been no increase in childcare costs in the last 12 months.

The lowest nursery costs were in the Midlands and the northeast.

Working parents in Britain have to pay about three-quarters of their total childcare costs, compared to a European average of less than a third. Unsurprisingly, two-thirds of parents said that child care is unaffordable.

Daycare Trust's fifth annual survey shows that over recent years the costs of childcare have soared above inflation across the country, largely due to rising labour costs.

The largest increases this year were in Wales with a seven per cent rise and Scotland with an eight per cent rise, compared to two per cent in England.

Christine Walton, chief executive of Daycare Trust, said: "We urgently need a review of the funding system for childcare to ensure that all children have access to good quality services, regardless of their family income."

But while the Government's proposed Childcare Bill currently places a new duty on local authorities to provide sufficient childcare for all working families in their areas from 2008, it does not address the affordability of childcare.

Paul Goodman, shadow minister for child care, said: "The trust's excellent report confirms that Gordon Brown is letting down hard-pressed families in desperate need of child care help."