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Rising childcare costs and patchy availability lock London parents out of full-time work

London parents are asking companies to embrace flexible working but nearly two in three local authorities in London don't have enough childcare spaces for kids aged 5-11.

Research from Coram Family and Childcare: ‘School age childcare in London’, is a detailed study of childcare provision in London, including breakfast clubs, after school clubs, and holiday childcare (which many London parents rely on to be able to work.)

The report also found that some parents are driven out out of work due to high costs of childcare. For some going to work is more expensive than staying at home with the kids.

Some of the key findings included:

  • The annual cost of school age childcare is £3,250 a year in London – an increase of a third in the last decade;
  • The cost of a full week of term time childcare is equivalent to over a fifth of earnings from a full-time week of work at the National Minimum Wage, while holiday childcare costs nearly half of earnings;
  • Some parents, particularly those claiming Universal Credit, see little or no financial gain from working more hours, because of the cost of childcare.

A parent from Camden surveyed in the report said: “I know so many single parents who have gone back to full-time work and they’re worse off than they were before.”

The report also reveals huge variations in the availability of breakfast and after school clubs between London boroughs, with primary schools in some areas more than twice as likely to provide a breakfast club as in others. On top of this patchy availability, children with special educational needs or a disability (SEND) are even less likely to be able to access reliable childcare, according to Coram Family and Childcare’s interviews with parents. Coram Family and Childcare is calling for reforms from the Government to improve childcare provision, cost and quality, including: 

  • Switching to upfront payment for Universal Credit, to help provide a stable income for families with school age children, and raising the childcare funding provided by Universal Credit to 100% of costs, rather than the current 85%;
  • Dedicating funding to schools to guarantee the provision of all school age children in term time and holidays, working in collaboration with the voluntary and private sectors;
  • Introducing inclusion funding for school age children to increase the number of childcare providers that can offer care to SEND children.

“London parents who want or need to go out to work are struggling to find or afford the childcare they need. High costs, inadequate financial support and patchy availability of childcare act as a toxic combination for working parents. We need central, regional and local government to work together to implement solutions that support families.”

Megan Jarvie, Head of Coram Family and Childcare has said.