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Wednesday, 6 February, 2002, 15:59 GMT
'Nurseries should be tax deductible'
The couple are paying 650-a-month in nursery fees
Partners Rhona Ness and John Byrne say the government should do more to help parents manage the soaring costs of childcare.

The west London couple have a 15 month-old daughter - Caitlin - who is in full-time childcare.

While they are very fortunate to be able to afford the 650-a-month it costs to put Caitlin into a nursery, the charges have a huge impact on their disposable income.

It is not a luxury putting a child into nursery so why should it be taxable income which is used to pay for it.

Rhona Ness
Ms Ness - who returned to work when her daughter was seven-and-a-half months old - feels very strongly that parents should be able to claim back the tax they pay on childcare fees.

"I am paying 650 a month with money I have already been taxed on," she said.

"It is not a luxury putting a child into nursery so why should it be taxable income which is used to pay for it?"

Rising costs

"If the government allowed parents to claim tax back on childcare it would make a huge difference.

Ms Ness added: "At the end of the day it's a heck of a lot of money but Caitlin loves nursery and it has been so good for her development.

"She also does a lot of things like singing, dancing and painting that I would never do with her at home and has good interaction with older children too."

The costs of employing qualified childcare workers are high and living in London makes it even more expensive.

But the couple say the only way the government will help the vast majority of parents is by introducing tax benefits for families.

The BBC's Graham Satchell
"The average cost for a two-year-old is more than 6,000 per year"
Director, Daycare Trust, Stephen Burke
"In the long term we'd like to see the government invest more in affordable childcare places"
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