You are here: News Childcare costs surge at over double the rate of inflation

Britain’s parents are paying 5% more for childcare for the under-twos than they were one year ago*, according to the country’s most comprehensive annual survey of childcare costs, published today. Coram Family and Childcare’s 20th annual Childcare Survey finds that parents have been hit by childcare costs rising well ahead of inflation, and are now paying an average of £131.61 per week, or over £6,800 per year, for a part-time nursery place.

The survey also reveals that parents face a ‘postcode lottery’ with childcare prices and availability varying significantly across the country. The most expensive regions in the UK are London and the South East, where the cost of a part-time nursery place for a child under two is £165.47 and £144.90 per week respectively, compared to the least expensive regions - £116.25 in the West Midlands and £113.76 in Yorkshire and Humberside.

Even where parents can afford childcare, many will struggle to find it, with availability little improved on last year. In England, just over half (56%) of local authorities have enough childcare for parents working full-time, compared to 57% in 2019. Some families face even bigger gaps, as fewer than one in five local authorities in England have enough childcare available for children aged 12-14, children with disabilities and parents working outside regular office hours. Across England, the East Midlands and East of England report the lowest levels of availability across these areas.

Today’s report highlights that whilst most families can get some support with their childcare costs through cost subsidies or free entitlements, the system is too complicated. In England alone there are seven different ways that families can get support with their childcare costs, each with different eligibility criteria, which can leave parents at risk of missing out on the support they are entitled to.

Claire Harding, Head of Coram Family and Childcare, said: 

“Good childcare is essential: it enables parents to work and boosts children’s learning. But for far too many families in the UK, it just isn’t working. Recent government investment is welcome, but many families still face crippling costs, especially in the period from the end of parental leave to when a child turns three. There are seven different types of childcare support depending on families’ individual circumstances, and many parents find it difficult just to find out what’s available to them.

“Investing in childcare supports is good for us all because it helps parents to work now, and boosts children’s learning and skills for our future. We’re calling on Government to reform and simplify the childcare system so every parent is better off working after paying for childcare, and every child has access to childcare which supports their learning and development.”

The Childcare Survey 2020 sets out actions that Scottish, Welsh and UK governments can take to help parents find affordable childcare:

  • Reform Universal Credit so it doesn’t lock parents out of work: increasing the maximum amount of childcare costs paid under Universal Credit and moving to upfront payments for childcare
  • Regularly review the funding rate for free early years entitlements to make sure that they meet the cost of delivering high quality childcare
  • Extend the 30 hours free childcare for three and four year olds in England and Wales to families where parents are in training, to help parents get better jobs
  • Double the early years pupil premium, to boost outcomes for the most disadvantaged children
  • Reallocate any underspend against the budget for Tax-Free Childcare to other parts of the childcare system – and focus this on the most disadvantaged children

The full report is available to read here. 


For more information, comment and case studies, please contact Emma Lamberton, Communications Manager, Coram at / 0207 520 0427 / 07908 827908.

Notes to editors

  • In Great Britain, 25 hours of nursery for a child under two costs 5% more than a year ago, and for a child aged two it costs 4% more
  • Coram Family and Childcare’s annual Childcare Survey and Holiday Childcare Survey are the definitive reports on childcare costs and availability in the UK
  • This report is based on surveys from local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales, that were returned to Coram Family and Childcare between November 2019 and January 2020. A total of 175 local authorities returned data generating a response rate of 85%. Full methodology can be found in the report

About Coram Family and Childcare

Coram Family and Childcare works to make the UK a better place for families by bringing together what we learn from our on the ground parent-led programmes and our research to campaign for solutions that parents want and need. We focus on childcare and early years to make a difference to families’ lives now and in the long term. Before August 2018, we were known as the Family and Childcare Trust. For more information, please visit:


Twitter: @CoramFamChild

Facebook: @famchildtrust


About Coram

Coram is the UK’s oldest children’s charity, supporting children to have the best possible chance in life since 1739. We work as a group of specialist organisations helping more than a million children, young people, families and professionals every year.

We support children and young people from their earliest days to independence, creating a change that lasts a lifetime. We help build their confidence; we help them to develop skills; we uphold their rights, we support practitioners in the areas of fostering and adoption and we find loving adoptive families for the most vulnerable children.

We work in over 2,000 schools supporting nearly half a million children, run London’s largest Regional Adoption Agency and provide free legal advice for thousands of children and families who need it every year.

For more information, please visit:


Twitter: @Coram

Facebook: Coramsince1739


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