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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 January, 2005, 01:47 GMT
Nursery costs 'soar for parents'
Baby on changing mat in nursery
The West Midlands had cheaper care, the study found
Childcare costs have soared above the rate of inflation during the past year, a national childcare charity has said.

London and the South East of England are the hardest hit, with inner city costs reaching up to 10,000 a year, a report by the Daycare Trust suggested.

On average, it said, prices rose by 5.2% and parents were still having difficulty finding good places.

But the Department of Education said its own figures showed London parents spent nearer 3,800 a year on average.

Daycare Trust director Stephen Burke said: "Parents across the UK already know too well the inflating cost of childcare," he said.

"Parents need more access to affordable, quality childcare to suit their needs."

Costs vary

"There must be significant investment in the childcare workforce, to ensure there are enough staff and that they are trained to the highest standards to care for our children."

The study found the highest prices in the south-east and the cheapest in the West Midlands.

In inner London, the cost of nursery places rose by more than 17% in the past year to 197 a week for a child under the age of two.

Nearly two-thirds of child information services around the UK said parents reported a lack of affordable good nurseries, the report said.

In Scotland, the typical cost of a nursery place for a child under two was 122 a week, in Wales, 120.

Out of school clubs typically set parents back a further 45 a week.

Figures questioned

Nursery places for children older than two typically cost 132 a week each in England, up 7.3% from last year.

Rosemary Murphy of the National Day Nurseries Association said the Government should invest more to support childcare provision.

"Although we have seen unprecedented Government investment into early years education and childcare it is still not clear how the direct conflict between paying childcare workers decent salaries and keeping fees affordable for parents will be resolved," she said.

A Department for Education and Skills spokeswoman said: "Ten thousand pounds is nowhere near what most London families with a child under two will spend.

"Our figures - based on what parents tell us they use - show the figure would be more like 3,800 per year.

"Our Ten Year Strategy is very good news for people in areas with higher childcare costs.

From April, families with two or more children will be eligible for up to 100 more a week in childcare tax credits, she said.


SEE ALSO:
Parents receive childcare boost
02 Dec 04 |  Business
'Too few' early years workers
07 Sep 04 |  Education
'My childcare headaches'
05 Jul 04 |  UK


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