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Monday, 5 February, 2001, 00:25 GMT
Cost of childcare at 'record high'
Nurseries cost 110 a week, the Daycare Trust says
The cost of childcare for parents in Britain has reached a record high of nearly 6,000 a year, according to a leading childcare charity.

Research by the Daycare Trust found the typical full-time nursery place for a two-year-old costs in excess of 110 a week - more than 5,700 a year.

This was more than the average family with two children spent on housing or food.

More families need to know about the childcare tax credit and how it can help them with childcare costs

Stephen Burke, Director of the Daycare Trust
The findings come a week after the Childcare Commission, led by the former social security secretary Harriet Harman, suggested parents should be paid to stay at home to look after their young children.

It also recommended that there should be a childcare centre in every area and "generous financial support" for working and non-working parents.

Regional trends

The Daycare Trust found that prices varied form region to region, with inner London being the most expensive (134.86) and the North East being the least expensive (90.62).

In some hot-spots in London and the South East, a nursery place can cost up to 135 a week - over 7,000 a year.
Weekly nursery costs in England 2001
Inner London 134.86
Outer London 130.19
South East 121.20
South West 115
East of England 113
Yorks and Humber 102.36
West Midlands 100.66
East Midlands 99.71
North West 97.35
North East 90.62
National 110.49

Source: Daycare Trust

The researchers also found that the average cost of a childminder to look after a two-year-old was 90 a week - over 4,500 a year.

For many parents, they concluded, childminders were seen as a more flexible and affordable alternative to a nursery.

Director of the trust, Stephen Burke, said the findings showed the sacrifices some parents were making to ensure that their child had access to quality childcare.

But for many other parents, the cost of childcare was out of their reach, he said.

"More families need to know about the childcare tax credit and how it can help them with childcare costs."

Low income families

It was critical that parents on lower incomes could afford the cost of a typical nursery, said Mr Burke.

"More help is needed to enable all parents and children to share in the benefits of childcare.

"The geographical lottery in childcare prices means parents in London and the south east particularly benefit least from childcare tax credit and the ceiling should be raised or removed completely," he added.

The survey also highlighted the fact that employers should do more to help working parents with childcare costs, he said.

"At a time when we are close to full employment in many parts of the country, it is in the best business interests of employers to be competitive in recruiting and retaining the best staff."

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See also:

29 Jan 01 | UK Politics
'Pay parents for childcare' plan
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09 Dec 00 | UK Politics
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