- New analysis by Labour’s Shadow Early Years Minister shows that the average cost of holiday childcare has risen by over 24% in Yorkshire since 2010, while wages have risen by only 14% nationally
- An average two-child family in Yorkshire will have spent nearly £1760 on childcare over seven weeks of the summer holidays this year, at £880 per child
- The government admitted that there were only 216,000 sign-ups for their free 30-hour childcare entitlement, which launched this week, despite having promised 630,000 places during the election
- Ministers have further admitted that nearly a third of these have not actually been found a funded place while thousands more are still waiting due to technical problems with their website
- Major national nursery chains have also contradicted ministerial claims that they were signed up to provide the free hours throughout the country
As children return from summer holidays this week, Labour warned that childcare costs were rocketing just as the government’s new free entitlement fell dramatically short of the numbers pledged by the Tories.
New analysis of childcare costs in Yorkshire showed that they had risen by over 24% since 2010, rising from £101.15 a week then to £125.70 a week now. At the same time, wages rose by only 14% across the country, meaning that childcare is a greater proportion of family income.
The average cost for childcare for a family with two children over a full seven-week summer this year would amount to £1,745 in England. In Yorkshire, a two child family would have spent £1,759.80 for childcare at average costs over the same period.
David Cameron had promised all working families of 3 and 4 year olds would be entitled to 30 hours of free childcare during the 2015 election, a pledge maintained by Theresa May. However, the scheme has been plagued by technical difficulties and evidence that the places are under-funded.
This week, the government revealed in answer to questions from Labour’s Shadow Early Years Minister Tracy Brabin that there had been 216,000 codes issued to parents through their website. This is around a third of the 630,000 places originally promised by the Conservatives, and around half of the 390,000 children the government had estimated were eligible after they imposed restrictions on families earning too much or too little.
They also admitted that nearly a third of those have not actually been found a funded place on the scheme, while around 1500 have been stuck due to unresolved technical difficulties with the website. They were unable to say how much compensation was likely to be paid out as a consequence.
Ministers were further embarrassed when two major nursery chains, Busy Bees and Co-operative Childcare, who they had said would provide the 30 hours to working parents, started to call the scheme ‘supported’ or ‘subsidised’, rather than ‘free’ as advertised by government. Busy Bees said that many nurseries would limit working parents to 3 consecutive hours at a time and charge for the rest of the working day in order to make the scheme financially viable.
MP for Batley and Spen and Shadow Minister for Early Years, Tracy Brabin said:
“These figures are the latest evidence that the Tories are letting down working families across Yorkshire. With the summer coming to an end, parents have been feeling the squeeze as they face ever rising childcare costs and wages that just can’t keep up.
“And in the same week, the government’s so-called free childcare offer has fallen far short of the pledges they made when they asked for parents’ votes at election time. They haven’t even provided a quarter of the places they claimed. They have left hundreds of thousands of working parents either ineligible or unable to access the free childcare they were promised.
“The next Labour Government will give every 2 to 4 year old 30 hours of free childcare a week, with the resources to actually deliver it.”