You are here: News Hard working parents torpedoed by stubbornly high childcare costs

British parents now pay an eye-watering average of £116 per week for a part time nursery place- or over £6,000 every year, more than double what families spend on food and drink in a year, according to new research by the Family and Childcare Trust. (1)(2)

In its 16th annual Childcare Survey, the charity reveals that although there is some reprieve for families as nursery prices held steady and childminder prices rose just above inflation at 1.9 per cent, this will be scarce relief for families who can be spending up to 45 per cent of their disposable income on average childcare costs. (3)

Parents claiming benefits moving into minimum wage jobs can take home as little as £1.96 an hour after paying for childcare. And some families will spend all of parent's earnings on childcare meaning that working does not make them better off. (4)

Parents in Inner London pay the highest price for childcare - £154 per week for a part time place, or a third more than the national average. (5)

Costs also aren't the only problem: many parents can’t find the childcare they need. In England, only half of areas have enough childcare for parents working full time. The gaps are even bigger for parents who do not work typical office hours, where only one in eight areas have enough care. Families with disabled children are also likely to struggle: only 18 per cent of areas have enough childcare for them.

Ellen Broomé, deputy chief executive at the Family and Childcare Trust said: 

“It is a disgrace that so many parents are effectively shut out of the workplace by crippling childcare costs. Recent Governments have rightfully invested in childcare, but too many parents are still struggling to find and pay for childcare that they and their children need.

“Childcare is as vital as the rails and roads for helping our country to run: it boosts children’s outcomes throughout life and helps parents work. We need a strategy to make sure that every parent is better off working after they have paid for childcare.

“The Government must closely monitor the roll out of the 30 hour offer and tax free childcare to make sure that all children can access high quality childcare and all parents can make real choices about how they work and care for their children.”

As well as a childcare strategy that meets children and parents’ needs, the Family and Childcare Trust is calling on the Government to:

  • Make sure that every parent will be better off working after childcare costs
  • Review funding for free childcare entitlements every year based on evidence of the costs of providing high quality provision
  • Improve access to childcare for children with special educational needs and disabilities
  • Improve information for parents about local childcare provision, including up to date prices and availability


Contact: Mark Bou Mansour, Communications and Campaigns Manager. Telephone: 0207 940 7535, mobile: 07538 334 772, email:


Notes to Editors


  1. Childcare costs in England, Scotland and Wales:



25 hours of care in a nursery

25 hours of care from a childminder

Care after-school for a child aged 5-11

For under 2s

For 2 year olds

For under 2s

For 2+ year olds


After-school club





























2. Average weekly household expenditure on food and non-alcoholic drink in Britain for the financial year ending 2016 was £56.80. Family spending in the UK: financial year ending March 2016. Office for National Statistics. Link.

3. The proportion of disposable income spent on childcare was calculated for a family with a child under one and a child of primary school age, where both parents or the single parent are working full-time. It assumes that the family is using a full time childminder for the youngest child and after-school care for the older child, both at average prices. Universal Credit rates for 2016/17 are used (but a 63p taper is applied). Both parents are working full-time and are aged over 25, and neither is earning more than £50,000. Housing costs are based on the rates paid by Local Housing Allowance.

4. See page 24 of Childcare Survey 2017.

5. Regional nursery costs for under two:



Nursery for under two for 25 hours

Inner London


Outer London


South East


South West


East of England


East Midlands


North East


West Midlands


North West


Yorkshire and Humber












This report is based on surveys sent by the Family and Childcare Trust to all local authority Family Information Services in England, Scotland and Wales. It builds on similar reports carried out annually since 2001.

We sent surveys to Family Information Services in November 2016. Following the mid-December survey deadline, we sent Freedom of Information requests to local authorities which had not responded.

Full methodology can be found in the report.


About the Family and Childcare Trust  

The Family and Childcare Trust aims to make the UK a better place for families. We are a leading national family charity in the field of policy, research and advocacy on childcare and family issues, with over 40 years’ experience. Our on-the-ground work with parents and providers informs our research and campaigns. We focus on the early years and childcare because they are crucial to boosting children’s outcomes throughout life and supporting parents to work.