You won’t be surprised to read this but families across the country, and here in Tameside too, are facing a rising tide of childcare costs as prices rise again.
Last week the latest report into the Childcare Survey which measures how local authorities and families are dealing with caring for their children was damning. Parents now pay an average of £127 per week, or over £6,600 per year, for just a part time nursery place. On top of this, prices have risen by over 3% in the last year.
Costs have risen so much since 2010 in fact that some parents are today paying more for part-time nursery care than the cost of a year’s university tuition.
The research conducted by Coram Family and Childcare also revealed that Government policies to provide childcare had had a very minimal effect on families financial burdens with most parents responding that the Tory policy had made no, or very little impact in their day to day lives.
Things have gotten that bad that most Government support has failed to keep up with childcare price inflation. In 94% of councils a full time nursery place for a child under two is now more expensive than the maximum costs supported under Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit.
We’ve fared little better here in Greater Manchester. Working parents in our part of the world have seen nursery fees rise three times faster than their wages over the past decade with overall costs having rocketed by 44% per week since 2008 for families in the North West )with a full-time and a part-time working parent). The situation is even worse for lone parents. Childcare costs for a single mum or dad working full time have risen seven times faster than earnings, with a part-time parent spending close to half their income on childcare costs.
Locally, our councils are struggling in the face of massive budget cuts imposed from Whitehall, while demand continues to rise. Last year Tameside Council faced unprecedented demand for emergency children’s services, with the numbers of children coming into the system rising by a fifth in the last year alone.
Our local authorities are facing greater challenges with less resources. Families are facing higher and higher costs just in order to make sure their children are safe for a few hours while they are at work.
That’s why a Labour government would approach things differently. Labour will extend the 30 hours childcare programme to the parents of all two, three and four-year-olds as we move a step closer to providing universal support for all families with young children.
I’ll continue to push the Government for a fairer deal on childcare because our communities deserve better than this.