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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 February 2006, 00:06 GMT
Nursery costs soar, charity says
Two children
Full-time nursery places are highest in London
The average cost of a full-time nursery place in Britain has reached 7,400 a year, according to the Daycare Trust.

The typical charge for a full-time place for a child aged under two is now 142 a week, its research suggests.

The trust says childcare costs have risen significantly above inflation in the last year, with Scotland up by 8% and Wales up by 7%.

The cost of a full-time place in England has risen 27% since 2000, it adds. Charges are highest in London.

However, the cost in the capital rose hardly at all in 2005.

Beth Reid, from the Childcare Trust, said rising charges across the country were partly due to rising labour costs.

"The minimum wage has been rising and many childcare staff are on the minimum wage," she said.

"Also, the cost of premises is expensive - especially in London and the South East."

Expensive child minders

Inner London is still the most expensive place in the country when it comes to nursery care.

The average charge for a nursery place for a young child is currently 197 a week, while in outer London the typical cost is 174 a week.

But some parents are paying much more, particularly for child minders.

There needs to be more help for mothers to return and maintain a place in the workforce
Andrea Bugg, Boston

The trust's research reveals that for the first time the most expensive childminders cost even more than nurseries, with some childminders in London and the South East charging 500 a week per child.

Even for central London, however, the figure is untypical.

The average cost there is a more affordable 163 a week, ahead of the average for Great Britain of 130 a week.

Looking back over the last five years, the trust says childcare costs have far outstripped the general rise in inflation.

The main state support for childcare falls into three categories:

  • Free nursery or reception class places for all three and four year olds - for two and a half days a week, spread over five days each week, during term time
  • The child care element of the working tax credit - means tested but for some parents may pay up to 70% of child care costs such as paying nurseries or child minders
  • Child care vouchers - introduced in 2005, working parents can take a voucher from an employer in lieu of 50 a week in pay, in exchange for saving up to 800 a year in tax and National Insurance contributions

Despite the new government policies introduced in the last few years, the Daycare Trust calculates that parents in the UK still have to pay about 75% of their total childcare costs, compared to a European average of 30%.

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