Childcare is costing families more than ever before with parents across Greater Manchester having to deal with the Tory Governments complete failure to deliver affordable, sustainable childcare for families across the region.
Labour takes this issue seriously which is why we commissioned a joint piece of research with the Family and Childcare Trust to determine how bad things had become; as expected, figures from their annual survey revealed huge price hikes.
Overall, and depending on variables like the age of your child and geography, the cost of childcare since 2010 has increased by between 25% and 67%. The size of the rise is dependent on what part of the country you find yourself in with nursery bills rising the fastest in the North East (63%), and the West Midlands (67%). Across the North West, childcare costs rose by an eye watering 47% over the same period.
With wages having risen, on average, only 11% in Tameside over the same period parents are facing the very real reality of childcare costs rising four-times faster than wages, this is completely unsustainable.
With the cost of childcare spiralling and wages unable to keep pace, parents are spending more and more of their income on childcare, and the picture is even worse for single parents and part-time workers. Across England as a whole, childcare can cost as much as two-thirds of a part time worker’s weekly salary, with the average cost of a part time nursery place for a child under two coming to roughly £117 per week, the average part-time weekly wage is £178.
At a time when real incomes are increasingly squeezed, families face the very real situation where going to work may not actually pay, as the cost of childcare could be higher than the income from working.
The families on the lowest incomes, who are not eligible for the Government’s extended entitlement to free childcare, will face the greatest pressure as costs continue to rise but additional Government support is not forthcoming.
Currently central Government has only pledged support for 30 hours of free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds, this is not enough. In the face of these pressures Labour has committed to extending free childcare to all two-year-olds, because we recognise that families need a hand in these difficult times.
Childcare is as vital as the rails and roads to making our country run: it boosts children’s outcomes, supports parents to work and provides our economy with a reliable workforce, which is why we need a Government who takes this seriously.