London childcare costs are highest in Britain, report finds

London childcare costs are highest in Britain, report finds

Childcare costs in London are the highest in Britain according to a new report by a leading charity, while at the same time levels of provision in the capital have been falling.

Figures compiled by Coram Family and Childcare for its annual national childcare survey show that 25 hours of nursery care for children under the age of two costs an average of £183.56 a week in inner London areas and £155.19 a week in outer London, compared with a Great Britain average of £138.70, £108.62 in Scotland and £122.17 in Yorkshire and Humberside. The same amount of childminder care costs £172.12 per week in inner London and £148.51 in outer, compared with a national average of £124.41 a week.

For 50 hours, nursery care weekly costs are £368.73 per week and £303.04 per week in inner and outer London respectively, and £344.10 and £294.27 for the same amount of childminder care. The Great Britain average figures are £269.86 for 50 hours of nursery care and £237.28 to employ a childminder.

Ellen Broomé, managing director of Coram Family and Childcare (pictured), warned today that with food, fuel and rent increases and general pandemic impacts will mean more London parents struggling to meet childcare costs and that, for some, “going to work will be unaffordable”.

Speaking on the BBC’s Politics London programme, Broomé expressed disappointment that Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s spring statement last week contained no mention of childcare costs and argued that “it should always pay to work”. She called for the ceiling on childcare costs covered by universal credit to be raised.

As prices rise, after school care for primary school age groups has been in decline with fewer than one fifth of the capital’s local authorities saying they have enough capacity for the 5-to-11 age group, prompting Victoria Benson, chief executive of single parent charity Gingerbread warning of increasing competition for a diminishing number of after school places. “We’re already hearing about people who can’t take up jobs because they can’t find the childcare,” she said.

Also speaking on the programme, Tony Devenish, a Conservative Westminster councillor and London Assembly member, stressed that the state provides up to 30 hours of free childcare a week for all three and four year-olds and those in vulnerable homes, while everyone else gets 15 hours, but cautioned that said that “everything can’t be paid for at once” and urged private sector employers to do more.

London Labour MP Stella Creasy said national government should see paying for childcare as an infrastructure issue, which helps individuals and is also good for the economy, a point echoed by Stephen Cowan, Labour leader of Hammersmith & Fulham, who said, childcare should be seen as “an investment” rather than cost which can enable people who are locked out of opportunities “the capital city of the fifth biggest economy on Earth” because childcare costs are so high.

Watch Politics London in full here.

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