Tackling childcare affordability

Date published: 
22 February 2012

The Health and Public Services Committee says action is needed to prevent London parents being locked out of employment because of ‘eye-wateringly high’childcare costs.

Our report says childcare costs in the capital are up to a third higher than elsewhere in the UK - an average of £119 a week for a child under two years old.

On average, London families spend a larger proportion of their income on childcare and travel than people in the rest of the country. However, Londoners do not get extra financial help to meet higher childcare costs.

London parents also face more challenges than parents in other regions because of longer working hours, lengthy commutes and being less likely to have family close by to help look after children. The situation is compounded by local authority budget cuts which mean the closure of affordable nurseries at Children’s Centres in some areas.

Watch a short video about our report:

 

Our recommendations:

The Committee’s report calls on:

  • The Government to develop the childcare element of Universal Credit so the maximum amount families can claim varies according to local childcare costs.
  • The Government to explore reweighting grants for local authorities to cover free 15 hours of nursery education for 3 and 4-year-olds to factor in local costs
  • The Mayor to include improving access to early years’ education in his education inquiry
  • The Mayor to promote childcare vouchers schemes to the capital’s employers
  • London Councils to promote good practice to improve access to affordable childcare
  • London Councils to develop a register of organisations that may be able to manage and run nurseries linked to Children’s Centres.

We also welcome Government plans to improve flexibility around the free entitlement for early years education and want ministers to particularly look at primary school settings to try to give parents greater choice over how the 15 free hours can be used.

The Committee has now received a response from London Councils and the Mayor about the report.

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