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Employment

Rising childcare costs are limiting parents’ ability to work, says Labour

New analysis from Labour has shown the average family in the UK now spends nearly £1,500 more on a nursery place than they did five years ago.

The cost of living crisis has seen many people’s bills increase overnight with childcare named yet another area being impacted by rising costs. Labour is now warning Chancellor Rishi Sunak and the government that childcare costs are so high parents are having to reduce the hours they work.

New analysis from Labour has shown the average family in the UK now spends nearly £1,500 more on a nursery place than they did five years ago.

A survey published by the campaign groups Pregnant Then Screwed and Mumsnet revealed that two thirds of 27,000 parents said that costs had significantly increased over the last six months and that they were paying as much or more for their childcare than for their rent or mortgage. Almost half of working mothers said they were considering leaving their jobs due to childcare costs and 40 per cent were now working fewer hours.

For the parents of primary school children, after school clubs are now costing 20 per cent more than they did five years ago, with some parents spending more on after school clubs than on their weekly food shop.

An Early Years Alliance report looking at childcare providers found that only 57 per cent of local authorities reported sufficient places available for children under the age of two. And with a decade of austerity measures, it’s no surprise that thousands of children’s centres have been forced to close with successive Conservative governments cutting off funding for them and now underfunding childcare providers.

The chancellor’s spring budget failed to outline any additional support for parents and working families. Speaking to the Guardian, Joeli Brearley, founder of Pregnant Then Screwed, said the government is once again ignoring “the plight of young families”. “The government says they want to support hardworking families, but families don’t work without childcare,” she said. “It is beyond frustrating that childcare is being ignored time and time again.”

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Labour also said that the chancellor’s statement “failed to give families the security they need as prices spiral and the Conservatives’ cost of living crisis is hitting household budgets.”

Bridget Phillipson MP, Labour’s shadow education secretary, said:

“The Conservatives are making high quality childcare increasingly unavailable and unaffordable. Parents are having to work fewer hours or leave jobs because they cannot find or afford it, once again failing children and families.

“Labour’s Children’s Recovery Plan would invest in early years places for children on free school meals and boost access to before and after school clubs, as families fight rising prices.

“The chancellor has failed to give families security. Labour would halt the national insurance rise and use a one off windfall tax on oil and gas companies to cut household’s bills by up to £600 and put families first.”

On April 2, the government announced the funding available for its recently launched Supporting Families programme. 75 local authorities have been flagged as eligible for a share of the £302 million allocated to create new Family Hubs in each area.

The funding for the Supporting Families programme includes: £100 million for parent-infant relationship and perinatal mental health support, £82 million to create Family Hubs and integrated support services for families, and £50 million to fund parenting programmes.

However, no specific mention was given to how families would be supported in the short term during the ongoing cost of living crisis.

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