You are here: News Sky high London childcare costs are a third more than national average

Inner London parents now pay an back-breaking average of £154 per week for a part time nursery place – or over £8,000 every year – almost triple what British 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 British 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)

While the average price for part time nursery place in Britain is £116, parents in Inner London pay the highest price for childcare in Britain – £154 per week – or a third more than the national average. This means Inner London parents pay for five weeks of childcare each month compared to rest of Britain. Parents in Outer London pay the second highest price for child care – £142 per week. (4)

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 one parent's earnings on childcare meaning that working does not make them better off. (5)

Costs also aren't the only problem: many parents will not be able to find the childcare they need. Less than half of London boroughs have enough childcare for parents working full time. And the gaps are even bigger for parents who do not work typical office hours – no areas in Inner London and only 11 per cent of areas in Outer London have enough care for this group of parent.

Families with disabled children are also likely to struggle. Only 5 per cent of areas in Outer London and 9 per cent of areas in Inner London 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 London 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

Inner London







Outer London



































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. 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










5. See page 24 of Childcare Survey 2017.



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.