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What does childcare cost in the UK compared to other countries?

Childcare costs in London are higher than the UK average (Lucas Alexander / Unsplash)
Childcare costs in London are higher than the UK average (Lucas Alexander / Unsplash)

The average annual cost of a full-time nursery place for a child under two in Great Britain is now a staggering £14,836, according to a report by the charity, Coram.

Childcare costs have risen by nearly 6 per cent over the past year, whilst the availability of places has fallen.

Fewer than one in five (18 per cent) of local authorities in England having enough childcare places for disabled children, down from 21 per cent.

High costs are “freezing parents out of work” and gaps in availability are “leaving disadvantaged children at risk of missing out”, according to the charity’s report.

One in four parents say the cost of their childcare is now more than 75 per cent of their take-home pay, according to a survey of 24,000 parents by the charity, Pregnant then Screwed. One in 10 break even or end up with a loss.

Additionally, parents are delaying having another child due to the cost of childcare, according to new research.

A survey of 1,000 parents with children under four found that 63 per cent would delay having or would not have another child due to childcare costs.

The survey also found that 70 per cent of parents would work more if childcare were available for free.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is expected to announce an expansion of free childcare as part of the Spring Budget next month.

What is the average cost of UK childcare?

The average cost of childcare in the UK for children under two years old is £138 per week (part-time) or £263 per week (full-time) according to the National Childbirth Trust (NCT).

The weekly average cost of an after-school club is £62.13, and the weekly average cost of a childminder is £71.06.

The average cost of holiday childcare per week is £139.60.

These costs are more expensive in London, with some families in inner London having to spend £45 more a week on staff for their children than the British average.

Why is childcare expensive?

Childcare in the UK is expensive partly due to the childcare ratio of one adult to a maximum of three under-twos.

But the support available in the UK is also not as generous compared to other countries.

Childcare costs are preventing or delaying parents from having more children (Ian West / PA)
Childcare costs are preventing or delaying parents from having more children (Ian West / PA)

What is the cost of childcare in other countries?

The UK is the third-most expensive country for childcare in the world, based on a couple earning the average wage, according to data from the OECD.

The only countries that are more expensive are Switzerland and New Zealand.

For couples earning 67 per cent of the average wage, the UK is the most expensive country for childcare, alongside the Czech Republic and Cyprus.

For couples earning the minimum wage, the UK is the second-most expensive country, after the Czech Republic.

Nordic countries are considered to be among the best countries in the world for childcare.

According to the World Economic Forum, childcare costs in Denmark are capped at 30 per cent of the actual cost - around £460 per month.

In Norway, preschools charge a maximum of £200 per month. In Sweden, parents receive around £85 per month to help with childcare costs, which usually cost around £100 per month.

Childcare in the UK is expensive compared to other countries (Dominic Lipinski / PA)
Childcare in the UK is expensive compared to other countries (Dominic Lipinski / PA)

What is being done to reduce childcare costs?

The government says it has spent £20bn in the past five years to help families with childcare costs.

Rishi Sunak told MPs last month that he was “considering new plans to improve the cost, choice, and affordability of childcare”.

Although the chancellor is said to be announcing childcare reforms during the Spring Budget, it is thought that he will reject a Department for Education (DfE) proposal to subsidise free 30-hours-a-week childcare for parents of children aged between nine months and three years, as reported by the i.

Earlier in February, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) called on the Government to double its contribution to the tax-free childcare scheme.

The Department for Education said: “We continue to review all options to improve the cost, choice, and availability of high-quality childcare.”

Where can parents get help with childcare costs?

Parents can get help paying for approved childcare from the Government, such as a childminder, nanny, playscheme, nursery, or club.

Parents may also be eligible for tax-free childcare, tax credits, Universal Credit, and help while you study. Find out if you are eligible for these benefits on the government website.

Parents of children aged two to four may be able to apply for free education and childcare. To find out if you’re eligible, contact your local council.