Some parents are paying more than the cost of a year’s university tuition for a part-time nursery place, new research has indicated.
The average cost for 25 hours a week at nursery for a child under-two is £175 a week in Inner London, or £9,100 a year, according to figures released by the Coram Family and Childcare Trust.
The cost of early-years education has risen by 3% in the last year, with British parents now paying £127 per week on average for each child under-two in nursery, the charity’s 2019 childcare survey said.
Childcare prices vary significantly across Great Britain, but are lowest in Yorkshire and Humberside, where 25 hours of weekly care for a child under-two will set parents back £5,616 per year.
Nursery bills are slightly cheaper for older children with an average cost of £124 a week, or £6,448 per year, for three and four-year-olds in Britain.
Most working parents are entitled to some Government funding for three and four-year-olds, thanks to the 30 hours a week free childcare allowance, redeemable at most nursery schools and childminders.
However, the report suggests that a number of local authorities believe the policy to be damaging the childcare sector.
One in four (26%) local bodies think the new rules are making childcare outside of the 30-hour allowance more expensive, and one local authority in the East Midlands told the survey providers were increasing charges so that the daily rate was higher for funded children than unfunded children.
It said: “One of the most extreme examples of additional charges was a setting who were charging parents £1 a day to open their child’s packed lunch.”
Anntoinette Bramble, who chairs the Local Government Association’s children and young people board, called on the Government to ensure councils can provide early-years education for all families.
She said: “Good quality early years education is vital in helping children get the best start in life. The intention behind the 30 hours free childcare scheme is good, but the funding provided by Government does not cover the costs for providers in many cases.
“In this year’s Spending Review, the Government must make sure that councils have enough funding to make sure that all families can access the high quality early education that meets their needs.”
The Government said it is spending a “record amount” on childcare support, allowing parents to be flexible in their working hours.
A Department for Education spokesman said: “More than 700,000 of the most disadvantaged two-year-olds have benefited from 15 hours free childcare since 2013, and more than 340,000 three and four-year-olds benefited from our 30 hours offer in the first year, meaning parents are spending less on childcare or are able to work more flexibly.”