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London parents face the highest childcare costs in the country

The early restrictions did not reflect the interdependency of households and importance of informal childcare, the study found (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Archive)
The early restrictions did not reflect the interdependency of households and importance of informal childcare, the study found (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Archive)

Parents in London are being hit with record childcare costs, forcing many to give up work as the number of providers in the capital falls sharply.

New figures from a Government childcare and early years provider survey show a jump of 13 per cent over four years, to £7.30, in the average hourly cost of childcare in London for toddlers.

Similar rises were seen for other youngsters, leaving many parents having to spend a huge chunk of their wages on childcare.

With some families in inner London having to spend £45 more a week on staff for their children than the British average, childcare is threatening to become a major election issue.

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

Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson said: “Families in London strain every sinew to fund the growing cost of childcare, but too often it means parents, particularly women, having to cut working hours or give up jobs.”

The new figures, based on research by Labour, show that the average hourly cost of childcare for children aged under two increased from £6.51 in 2018 to £7.31 — a jump of 12 per cent.

For three to four-year-olds the cost rose from £6.32 to £7.03 an hour.

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

Parents of all three to four-year-olds are eligible for 15 hours a week of free childcare, with some able to claim 30 hours if they qualify. Labour has vowed to guarantee childcare for all parents of children aged nine months to 11 years. One of the factors pushing up costs is the decline in the number of childcare providers in the capital as higher rent, mortgage and staff costs make it harder for operators.

The survey by the Coram Family and Childcare charity found last year that the price for 25 hours a week childcare for children aged under two in inner London is £183.56 — the highest in the country and £44.86 higher than the average for the rest of Britain.

* The number of childcare providers in London fell from 15,907 to 14,901 in the year to August 2022 — a drop of six per cent, according to data from the Government. In some parts of London the number of providers fell far more sharply with City of London seeing a 21 per cent fall, Kingston down by 14 per cent and Wandsworth experiencing an 11 per cent fall. Bromley, Camden, Islington and Kensington and Chelsea all saw the number of providers fall by 10 per cent