You are here: News Families face rising tide of childcare costs as prices rise again

Parents now pay an average of £127 per week, or over £6,600 per year, for just a part time nursery place, according to new research from Coram Family and Childcare. The Childcare Survey 2019 – the 19th annual survey – finds prices have risen by 3 per cent in the last year.

Prices also vary significantly across the country. In Inner London – the most expensive region in the UK – the price of a part time nursery place for a child under two is £175 per week, or £9,100 per year, compared to an average £108 per week in Yorkshire and Humberside, or £5,600 per year.

Even if they could afford it, many parents will struggle to find the childcare they need. In England, only just over half of local areas have enough childcare for parents working full time. Some families will face even bigger gaps – less than a quarter of local areas have enough for disabled children and parents working outside the usual 9 to 5. 

Most parents will be able to get some support with paying for their childcare, including from two new schemes introduced in 2017 – 30 hours funded childcare for three and four year olds with working parents in England, and Tax Free Childcare across the UK.

Coram Family and Childcare asked local authorities what impact the 30 hours funded childcare has had on their local childcare market. While most say either that there has been no impact or that they don’t know: 

  • One in four local authorities (26 per cent) report that 30 hours is pushing up childcare prices for 3 and 4 year olds outside funded entitlements
  • One in three local authorities (36 per cent) report that 30 hours is having a negative impact on the financial sustainability of childcare settings
  • One in four local authorities (28 per cent) think that 30 hours will have a positive impact in future on the quality of early education and childcare

While many families welcome this support with childcare costs, others may be missing out on the help that’s available because the system is so complex. There are seven different ways families in England can get support – all with different eligibility criteria.

Some Government support has failed to keep up with childcare price inflation: in 94 per cent of local authorities, a full time nursery place for a child under two is now more expensive than the maximum costs supported under Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit. Families in these areas will find that they may end up worse off working, or working more hours.

Megan Jarvie, Head of Coram Family and Childcare, said:

“Childcare is every bit as vital as schools, healthcare or transport: it supports parents to work, provides our economy with a reliable workforce and boosts children’s outcomes. But too many parents remain locked out of work by high childcare costs and low availability, and too many children miss out on high quality childcare, and the benefits to their life-chances that come with it.

“Recent Government investment is welcome, but as prices continue to rise, families remain at risk of getting left behind. For many parents, making work pay is an uphill struggle. The Government needs to streamline the current maze of childcare support schemes so that families can understand what they are entitled to and access the childcare they need. We need a simple and responsive childcare system that makes sure every parent is better off working and childcare quality is high enough to boost children’s outcomes throughout life.”

Alongside Coram Family and Childcare’s call for ambitious childcare reform, the Childcare Survey 2019 sets out several short term actions Government can take to make it easier for parents to find and afford childcare:     

  • Increase the maximum amount of childcare costs that are supported by Universal Credit in order to make sure parents are better off for every extra hour worked, and switch to upfront payments so that parents can afford to move into work.
  • Provide start up grants and responsive funding for childcare providers to increase the availability of childcare places.
  • Extend the 30 hours entitlement to parents undertaking training to make sure childcare costs do not prevent parents from developing the skills and employability that drives social mobility.
  • Improve access to early education for disadvantaged children by doubling the early years pupil premium.
  • Consider how current spend on childcare could be reallocated to better meet the needs of disadvantaged and low income children, including current underspend of the Tax Free Childcare budget.


Contact: Megan Jarvie, telephone: 020 7239 7536, mobile: 07538 334 722, email: or

Notes to Editor:

  1. The average price for a part time (25 hours) nursery place is Britain is £124 per week, 4 per cent higher than in 2018.
  2. Childcare prices per week for part time childcare (25 hours) in England, Wales and Scotland:
  1. Parents can get support with their childcare costs throughout Britain through Working Tax Credits, Universal Credit, Childcare Vouchers and Tax Free Childcare. England, Scotland and Wales also each have several different schemes offering funded childcare to some two, three and four year olds. See the full report for further information. 
  2. The Tax Free Childcare scheme pays £2 for every £8 parents pay for childcare, up to a maximum of £2000 per child per year. 
  3. The 30 hours extended entitlement rolled out in 2017 in England, providing parents of three and four year olds who are each working a minimum of 16 hours a week an additional 15 hours per week during term time of funded childcare above the universal 15 hours of funded childcare that all parents of three and four year olds are entitled to.


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.

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