Childcare costs 'more than a mortgage'

The surging cost of childcare has left families paying more for the service than they spend on their mortgage, according to a report.

To put two children in part-time care at 25 hours a week, parents fork out an average £7,549 a year, around 4.7% more than the average mortgage bill, found the Family and Childcare Trust.

And for a family with two youngsters in full-time childcare the cost jumps to £11,700 a year, 62% higher than the average yearly mortgage bill.

It also warns that some households may be spending more on childcare than they do on their weekly shopping, with the former cost nearly double.

Since 2002 childcare costs have risen at a faster rate than inflation each year, according to the study. In the last five years alone, the price of part-time nursery care for a child under two has risen by 27%, with parents paying around £1,214 more in 2014 than in 2009.

The report also said that international data shows that parents in Britain hand over more than a quarter of their salary to pay for care, more than most other European nations.

It concluded that “the current childcare system is not working for anyone,” with children missing out on early education, families trapped in poverty and childcare providers struggling with debts.

This means that women fail to return to the labour market and the economy loses their skills and their taxes, leaving the state with greater welfare bills, the Trust added.

“When even part-time childcare costs outstrip the average mortgage for a family home – and many parents have to spend more than a quarter of their income on childcare – it’s clear that our childcare system isn’t fit for purpose,” said Anand Shukla, chief executive at Family and Childcare Trust.

“We need a childcare system that helps parents who want to work and contribute to the economy and gives children the best start in life. The Family and Childcare Trust wants to see all political parties commit to a long-term childcare strategy that delivers for parents, providers, and crucially, for children.”

The Department for Education said that the survey shows that the cost of nursery for a child over two was now £106.19, compared to £106.52 per week last year, which it said was a 2% reduction in real terms.

It added that the survey also showed a 12.8% real terms reduction in the cost of a childminder picking up and caring for a youngster after school.

Dr Steven Toole, head of policy at 4Children said: “The cost of childcare remains a major challenge for too many families, resulting in some parents getting into debt and others having to give up or being prevented from taking up work. Recent 4Children research shows the scale of the struggle parents face with childcare, with one in four saying that affordable, flexible and accessible childcare would make the most real, positive difference to their family life.”

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