In January, we launched our fifth annual Childcare Cost Survey Report which showed that, in 2014, the average cost of a full time registered childcare place increased by 2.5 per cent to a massive £162 per week. For almost 30 per cent of families, childcare costs were the biggest bill they faced each month, eclipsing even their mortgage or rent payments.
Whilst we’re concerned about the rising costs, what worries us more is the serious effects that these financial pressures are having on local families, with many parents making a range of sacrifices just to make ends meet. We’ve heard from parents who are reducing their hours, or leaving work altogether, due to the high cost of childcare, as well as 22 per cent of respondents who are relying on loans or credit cards to pay their childcare bills.
Almost half of the 4,200 parents who responded told us that they are not sure as to whether they are getting all of the financial help to which they are entitled. We know that enhancing awareness of the support available with childcare costs will not only improve families’ incomes and help to tackle child poverty, but the consequential increased spending power can only be good for the local economy, which will also benefit from greater supply of labour if parents are enabled to return to, or stay in, work. For these reasons and more, we are calling on the Executive to take urgent action to help local parents navigate this increasingly complex, and expensive, system.
You can find out more about this work on our website at www.employersforchildcare.org