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One in five parents struggles with the cost of childcare

By Rachel Lawler
 
childcare toddler with parent
19% of parents struggle with the cost of childcare, according to a new parent survey conducted by the Department for Education (DfE).
 
The Childcare and early years survey of parents spoke to 5,922 parents of children aged 0-14 between January and August 2018.
 
89% of parents of three-year-olds said they had used formal childcare, compared to 40% of parents of children under the age of two.
 
Most parents of pre-school-aged children were using childcare for “economic” reasons – enabling them to work (66%), with educational development cited as the next most-common reason (58%).
 
30-hours offer
78% of parents of children aged under four were aware of the 30-hours offer, but awareness was higher amongst those on higher incomes. 68% of those earning under £10,000 were aware of the offer, compared to 89% of those earning £45,000 or more.
 
Three out of every four parents of eligible children are said to have taken up some of their additional 30-hours.
 
Most parents said that the 30-hours offer had benefits for both their finances and family, with 84% believing that the offer was helping prepare their child for school and 83% saying their child was now getting on better with other children.
 
Cost concerns
However, almost one in five parents (19%) said that it was difficult, or very difficult to meet their childcare costs. This increased for parents on lower salaries, with 32% of parents earning under £10,000 finding it difficult and 35% of those earning £10,000–£20,000.
 
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, commented: “We know that the cost of childcare presents a significant financial challenge to many families, and so it is positive to see that parental awareness of the funded entitlement schemes is growing.
 
Areas of deprivation
"That said, given studies have shown that current government childcare policies tend to benefit wealthier families over and above those more in need of support, it is worrying to see that only 66% of parents in the most deprived areas of the country are aware of the 30-hour offer, compared to 84% of those in the least deprived.
 
"What's more, while the so-called 'free entitlement' offers are – understandably – generally popular among parents, this alone cannot and should not be a measure of how successful these policies are.
 
“Our research has shown that sustained inadequate funding alongside rising business costs is having a devastating impact on early years providers across the country – and every week, we are seeing more and more quality settings being forced to close their doors for good.
 
"Simply arguing that these schemes are popular with parents isn't good enough – the government must ensure that those providers delivering funded places are adequately supported to do so."
 
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