The One Show: Alex Jones slams ‘ridiculous’ childcare costs
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Today, British parents spend an eyewatering £1,300 more on childcare each year compared to just five years ago. The unbelievable costs are affecting how much parents work and pushing them to make a decision on whether to quit their jobs. In some cases, prospective parents are even choosing not to have children altogether. The situation is starkly different from other European countries such as Germany, where the system was overhauled a decade ago to help parents with childcare costs.
As it stands, almost a third of parents’ joint income in the UK goes toward childcare costs, around three times higher than the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development average.
The situation elsewhere in Europe is completely different. In Germany, most children attend daycare or “Kita”, short for Kindertagesstätte, the German word for kindergarten or nursery.
In 2013, a new law was introduced that gave every child over the age of 12 months a legal right to a slot in a daycare facility. This was hoped to boost female employment and low fertility rates.
The costs are then partially subsidised by the state. Nursery costs from €70 to €150 (around £62 to £133) not per week — but per month. Even at the highest end, German parents are paying £1,596 a year — around the same as what Londoners pay a month. But some pay even less than this average.
One mother of twins took to social media to share the “alarming” difference between the two countries childcare costs.
Dialogue Books publisher Sharmaine Lovegrove wrote on Twitter that in Berlin, she pays €23 (£20.42) a month per child for five days a week, seven hours a day.
So each month she pays around £40 for both her children to be looked after from 8am until 3pm by two childminders. They go to the park, have organic food (including lunch and two snacks), and socialise with eight other children aged from one to three years old.
In the UK, the difference is enormous. It costs an average of £137.69 for a child under two years old to attend a day nursery for 25 hours a week. In London, this is higher, at £179.86, meaning parents are paying at least £550.76 per month for part-time childcare.
For full-time care of 50 hours a week, this is £263.81, or £321.75 in London, totalling more than £1,050 a month at minimum. This exceeds estimations of the average family of four’s budget per month for food shopping which is between £500 and £600.
But British parents have not always borne the brunt quietly. In 11 cities last year, 15,000 families protested against the cost of childcare after an unnamed Conservative politician told the Sun in an article titled “bonk for Britain” that we “need to have more children”.
Costs have also had a sociological impact, too. Since 2011, birth rates have been falling steadily with it now at 1.61 children per woman, compared to 1.94 ten years ago, ONS figures show.
Numerous surveys have revealed that it is costs that put parents off. According to Pregnant Then Screwed, 76 percent of women who do not have children say childcare costs are a factor or the main reason why they are choosing to be childless. Plus, among those who do have children, a staggering 84 percent admit that financial anxiety is caused by childcare costs.
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Raising a child to 18 costs a couple an estimated £160,000 — rising to £200,000 for single parents — for the minimum acceptable standard of living.
MP for Stroud Siobhan Baillie, writing for the Conservative Diary website this week, said Jeremy Hunt must confront the childcare issue in the upcoming spring budget as the costs are now at “second mortgage level or higher”.
She added: “For Conservatives, reforming childcare presents a major opportunity to spread economic and social opportunity, particularly for those parents on low and middle incomes. It is a chance to demonstrate how we can grow the economy and support families at the same time. It must be a top priority for this Government.”
A Guardian report last week revealed that the Treasury is now considering expanding free childcare to one and two-year-olds in England with the Confederation of British Industry calling for billions to be spent on reforming the system.
However, a source said the Chancellor of the Exchequer was “concerned about cost” with it being unlikely that he will approve the £5 to £10billion expansion.
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