Childcare costs push parents to the limit as costs hit £15,000 a year

Fees have jumped 5.9 per cent in the past year while the availability of places has dropped, according to the charity Coram. The government has spent £20bn in the past five years to help families with childcare costs.

But in separate polling, one in four parents say the cost of their childcare is now more than 75 per cent of their take-home pay.

And one in 10 only break even or end up losing money despite working, found a survey of 24,000 parents by the charity, Pregnant then Screwed.

The cost of a full-time nursery place for a child under two in Great Britain varies greatly, according to the BBC analysis.

A full-time nursery place costs an average of £285 a week, the equivalent of 44 per cent of the average pay for full-time workers.

Costs are lower in Scotland, however in inner London, despite people earning more, disproportionately higher nursery fees amount to more than half of the average full-time wage.

The Coram Childcare Survey 2023 reports similar price rises across the childcare sector – in childminders, nurseries, pre-schools and after-school care.

And the UK remains one of the most expensive places in the world for childcare. 

There has also been a drop in the availability of childcare in England. 

Only half of local areas have enough available spaces for children under two, the report says. 

And only two-thirds have enough space for three and four-year-olds who qualify for at least 15 free hours a week. 

Both figures are down seven percent on last year. 

A Parliamentary inquiry investigating why childcare is so expensive will report findings and recommendations in the autumn.

Among the solutions being discussed are a review of the funding rate for free hours to match what it costs nurseries, relief from business rates, and more help for working parents of children aged under two. 

The Department for Education says the number of childcare places available to families in England has remained broadly stable since 2015. 

A DofE spokesman says it has spent more than £20bn over the past five years to support families with the cost of childcare, in recognition of the financial pressures families and providers are facing.

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