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Childcare costs rising three times faster than wages

TUC analysis shows that childcare fees for nursery age children have increased by 52% per week since 2008.

Families are increasingly finding it more difficult to cover the rising costs of childcare in England, a shocking analysis reveals, as research by the TUC finds childcare fees have risen three-times faster than average earnings since before the financial crisis.

TUC analysis shows that childcare fees for nursery age children have increased by 52% per week since 2008, while working parent’s wages have only risen by a measly 17% over the same period.

Lone parents have been hit even harder, with a single mum or dad working full time faced with a seven-fold increase compared to take home pay.

Average childcare fees in England for nursery age children are now £236 a week for a child under 2 in nursery, compared to £159 in 2008, and £232 a week for a child over 2 in nursery, compared to £149 in 2008.

The analysis shows that despite improved Government support, such as free nursery hours for some working families and the new tax-free childcare scheme, hard-up parents are still facing substantial childcare costs.

For example, for parents with a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old:

  • A family on average earnings (with a parent working full-time and a parent working part-time) have to more than £4,700 a year to cover fees.
  • A low-income working family (with a parent working full-time and a parent working part-time) needs to find nearly £2,000 a year.
  • A single parent on average earnings (working full-time) pays just over £6,000, and;
  • A single parent on average earnings (working part-time) has to fork out £1,900.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Working parents have seen childcare fees rocket, as their wages have stagnated.

“Despite government support families still face eye-watering nursery bills. Britain’s cost of living crisis is having a huge impact on working mums and dads.”

Ellen Broomé, from Coram Family and Childcare, said: “Successive governments have rightfully invested in childcare but, while this investment has been welcomed, many parents remain frozen out of work because of high childcare costs,

“We know that high quality childcare boosts children’s outcomes, benefits the economy and allows parents to make genuine choices about work and care. But in the last year alone, childcare costs have risen by 7%.

“Urgent action is needed to make sure all parents are better off working after paying for childcare.”

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