Childcare fees put cost of living at forefront of political dogfight


By Matthew Jackson

FAMILIES using childcare for two children may be spending more on them than they pay for their mortgage, figures show.

The Family and Childcare Trust’s annual survey shows parents in the North West may be spending up to £2,900 more per year for childcare than the average UK mortgage of £7,207.

The North West, on average, has faired better than the rest of England who had to pay an extra £4,331.80.

Parents sending two children under the age of two to nursery for 25 hours per week will be spending an average of £2,985 more on childcare than they will be their mortgage.

Nationally parents spend in excess of £4,331 more on childcare compared to their housing.

The average household with two children with childcare and housing are spending roughly £11,362 a year on childcare and mortgage.

Chester MP, Stephen Mosley said: “These figures show – and I know as a parent myself – just how expensive childcare can be.

“It’s why the Government is introducing Tax-Free Childcare which will cut working families’ childcare costs by 20 per cent –  £1,200 per child. This scheme will be available for thousands of families here in Chester, helping parents who want to return to work do so and supporting working families with living costs.

“For parents on low incomes who want to work hard to provide a better future for their children, there is more good news. If a family receives tax credits or universal credit, they are already eligible for support to cover 70 per cent of childcare costs.

“I’m often out and about in our city, listening to people’s concerns. And I know Chester is full of hard working people who want to do the right thing and provide for their families. This Government is on their side.”

The tax-free childcare scheme is due to come into force in 2015 and will help families who earn under £15,000 and do not receive tax credits or universal credit.

The average price per week to send a single child under the age of two to nursery is £98 across the region and £97.80 for a child over the age of two. The North West is cheaper than the UK average but prices in the North West have increased by 35% since 2010.

Labour's prospective parliamentary candidate for Chester, Christian Matheson, said: “We know family finances are being squeezed by the cost of living crisis, and the new figures illustrate starkly the pressures parents face, as they’re often not even able to return to work to earn more money for their family because childcare is too expensive.

“Labour has pledged to increase free childcare for every child from 15 to 25 hours a week, so mums and dads can get back to work which will make a real difference to their family finances.”

The Family and Childcare Trust says the increasing costs to parents should be addressed in the long-term.

In the short-term, it says  the Government should extend part-time early education to all children – and not just the most disadvantaged – whilst extending the pupil premium to the most disadvantaged two, three, and four-year-olds.

See full story in the Chester Leader

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