You are here: News Rising childcare costs and patchy availability lock London parents out of full-time work

Nearly two in three local authorities in London do not have enough childcare for children aged 5-11, research from Coram Family and Childcare reveals.

The report, 'School age childcare in London', is a detailed study of childcare provided in London for school age children, including breakfast clubs, after school clubs, and holiday childcare, which parents rely on to be able to work.

The report also found that parents are frozen out of work by the high costs of childcare. Some of the key findings included:

  • The annual cost of school age childcare is £3,250 a year in London - an increase of a third in the last decade;

  • The cost of a full week of term time childcare is equivalent to over a fifth of earnings from a full-time week of work at the National Minimum Wage, while holiday childcare costs nearly half of earnings;

  • Some parents, particularly those claiming Universal Credit, see little or no financial gain from working more hours, because of the cost of childcare.

A parent from Camden surveyed in the report said: “I know so many single parents who have gone back to full-time work and they’re worse off than they were before.”

The report also reveals huge variations in the availability of breakfast and after school clubs between London boroughs, with primary schools in some areas more than twice as likely to provide a breakfast club as in others. On top of this patchy availability, children with special educational needs or a disability (SEND) are even less likely to be able to access reliable childcare, according to Coram Family and Childcare’s interviews with parents. Coram Family and Childcare is calling for reforms from the Government to improve childcare provision, cost and quality, including: 

  • Switching to upfront payment for Universal Credit, to help provide a stable income for families with school age children, and raising the childcare funding provided by Universal Credit to 100% of costs, rather than the current 85%;

  • Dedicating funding to schools to guarantee the provision of all school age children in term time and holidays, working in collaboration with the voluntary and private sectors;

  • Introducing inclusion funding for school age children to increase the number of childcare providers that can offer care to SEND children.

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

London parents who want or need to go out to work are struggling to find or afford the childcare they need. High costs, inadequate financial support and patchy availability of childcare act as a toxic combination for working parents. We need central, regional and local government to work together to implement solutions that support families.

Notes to Editor:

  • The research was conducted by Coram Family and Childcare and was funded by Trust for London, an independent charitable foundation who aim to tackle poverty and inequality in London.
  • Coram Family and Childcare’s advocacy focuses on learning from their research and their work with families to call for solutions that families want and need. Their annual Childcare Surveys, which are the definitive source of information on childcare costs and availability, were analysed to find the significant rate at which childcare costs are rising.
  • Coram Family and Childcare conducted an audit of all state-funded primary schools in London and telephone based mystery shopping of childcare providers to gather ‘real life’ experience. They also spoke to seven groups of parents in six local authorities in London to gather their opinions on provisions, quality, and cost of childcare. 
  • For further information, images and interviews please contact: Emma Lamberton, Communications Manager at Coram at / 0207 520 0427 / 07908 827908.

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

About Trust for London

Trust for London is an independent charitable foundation. We aim to tackle poverty and inequality in London and we do this by: funding voluntary and charity groups – currently we make grants totalling around £10 million a year and at any one time we are  supporting up to 300 organisations; funding independent research; and providing knowledge and expertise on London’s social issues to policymakers and journalists. For more, please visit

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