A report by the TUC has revealed that childcare costs have increased by 44% since 2010, for parents with children under 2 years - and the union body is calling for an urgent cash boost for the childcare sector. It argues that childcare is a vital part of our economic recovery; and investing in good quality, affordable childcare would support working parents and help the sector recover from the pandemic.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Childcare should be affordable for all. But parents are spending a massive chunk of their pay packets on childcare bills, while their wages stagnate. This is putting huge pressure on family budgets at the same time as other living costs are shooting up. New mums are caught in a catch 22. The UK’s miserly rate of statutory maternity pay means many are under financial pressure to return work early and are then at the mercy of sky-high childcare fees. We urgently need to get wages rising to stop households drowning in bills.”

On the need to invest in the childcare sector – not slash staffing requirements – Frances added: “The government has done little to support the childcare sector – even when nurseries were forced to close during the pandemic.  Cutting staffing ratios is the last thing we need. It would just put more pressure on underpaid and undervalued childcare workers.  We need a proper funding settlement for early-years childcare that delivers decent pay and conditions for the workforce and high-quality care.”

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) said: “We absolutely agree that the Government must give the childcare sector an urgent funding boost to reduce the burden on both parents and providers.

“For years we have been warning of the spiralling costs of childcare and Government underfunding of their funded childcare places is a significant factor. As the largest customer, the Government must pay the actual cost of delivering high quality early years education and care, not keep giving providers a shortfall. This leaves nurseries struggling to make ends meet and parents picking up that shortfall.

“We know parents are really grappling with the rapidly rising costs of living especially energy and food bills – this is also true for providers who are also facing increasing wage bills and business rates.

“We need to see urgent support to the early years sector with funding that meets the cost of providing the high quality care and education that all our children need and deserve.”

Read the full TUC press release here.

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