Although the average wage in Britain has not changed since 2009, the cost of childcare has risen by 27% since. A report from the Family and Childhood Trust says that an average British family’s childcare costs are approximately as high as their mortgage payment.
To add insult to injury, the UK has subsidized childcare yearly to the tune of about £6 billion ($10 billion). Hannah Richardson, a BBC News education and family reporter, says that the current Parliament will put an additional £1 billion pounds into the childcare coffers during this term.
There are ways in which the governments of England, Wales, and Scotland are attempting to take some of the onus off their citizens.
- All children in England, Scotland and Wales qualify for part-time free early education in the term after their third birthday.
- In England, children receive 570 free hours of childcare every year, but even with this help, some parents are contributing a substantial part of their income to childcare.
- Anand Shukla, chief executive at the Family and Childcare Trust, called on the government to extend early free education to all two-year-olds.
Many parents in Britain are being forced to quit their jobs in order to avoid paying the high cost of childcare. Ciaran Hughes of UK’s Channel 4 News reports that not only have daycare and nursery costs skyrocketed, but the price of hiring an individual “childminder” is increasing also.
If a family chooses from the private or non-profit childcare sector, the prices are often higher than what they would pay for public care. The government’s funding falls significantly short of what is needed to cover caretakers’ costs, resulting in increased prices which have to be paid by parents.
Some funding is given directly to the parents and other assistance goes to the childcare providers. The administrative costs for this complex tangle of red tape add to the increased overall expenses. Many feel that simplifying the aid would lower expenditures substantially.
John Bingham, Social Affairs Editor the UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph, reports that the average childcare payment for UK parents is twice the amount of their weekly grocery bill. Parents in Britain who use childcare now spend more than one-fourth of their income on it, one of the highest rates in the developed world.
On the other hand, it would be difficult to find anyone who thinks that cut-rate childcare is a desirable solution. The average pay for a childcare worker in the UK is equivalent to about $2,000 a month according to SalarySurvey.com. Some have wondered if making the decision to have children should be a consideration for those who are struggling to pay for childcare.