London’s childcare worry
Childcare in London remains more expensive than in any other part of the country. The average cost of 25 hours of nursery care for under two year olds is £158.73 per week in London, compared with the English average of £118.13 (over a third more).
The take-up of the Government’s current 15 hour entitlement in London is below the national average. Roughly 50 per cent of all eligible two years olds benefit, although in some inner London boroughs take-up is below 40 per cent.
Parents in London generally require more hours of childcare due to longer commute times, a lack of informal care provided by family members and the increasing number of jobs with evening and weekend hours.
So will the Government’s extension of free childcare, from 15 to 30 hours help in London? The London Assembly Economy Committee has written to the Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan, about expanding childcare provision in London.
The letter makes the following recommendations:
- The Government must ensure that providers of free childcare in London are properly reimbursed. Previously, the Government has not provided sufficient funding to cover the market cost of childcare in London and many providers now face a significant shortfall in funding.
- The Government should look at ways to increase the number of high quality childminders in London and encourage more schools to establish nurseries, given that most of the spare capacity in London exists in schools.
- The Government should consider devolving more powers to London government to set childcare policy and control funding.
Fiona Twycross AM, Chair of the Economy Committee, said:
“The shortage of affordable and flexible childcare is one of the key reasons for low parental employment in London, particularly among women. Many families in London are struggling financially to meet the costs of childcare and this means London’s economy loses out on talent, skills and experience.
It’s essential we have sustainable and high quality childcare in the capital and it’s vital that the Government’s childcare commitment is properly implemented. London has long been disadvantaged by funding allocations, so while we welcome the Government’s new entitlement, funding needs to reflect the true cost of childcare in the capital for it to be a success and help more people back into work.”
Notes to editors
- The Economy Committee letter on childcare is attached.
- 2016 Childcare Survey, Family and Childcare Trust
- Provision for children under 5 years of age: January 2015, National Statistics
- Fiona Twycross AM, Chair of the London Assembly Economy Committee, is available for interview. Please see contact details below.
- As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.
For media enquiries, please contact Lisa Lam on 020 7983 4067. For out of hours media enquiries, call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the London Assembly duty press officer. Non-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit on 020 7983 4100.