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The cost of childcare in London

Home / News / Lewisham news / The cost of childcare in London

20 March 2014
Cost of childcare Yesterday I led a debate in Parliament on the cost of childcare in London. I called the debate because I know that that the cost and availability of high-quality childcare is a real problem for families in my constituency and elsewhere in the capital. It places a crippling financial strain on parents, stops many women who want to go back to work from doing so and can mean children missing out on the sort of start in life they deserve.

In the last year alone, childcare costs in London have risen by 19% - five times faster than average earnings. Childminders for the over 5s cost 44% more than the British average and nursery costs for children under 2 are 28% higher - 25 hours per week of nursery now comes in at over £140.

Until Tuesday’s last minute announcement, the government looked set to make work hurt for the poorest paid whilst delivering a helping hand to those earning up to £300,000 per year. It’s welcome that the government has announced it will meet 85% of childcare costs in Universal Credit for the lowest earners as well as those earning above £10,000. However, it’s not unreasonable to ask whether this government really instinctively understands the issue or the urgency when it takes four years to drag out an announcement which will only take effect after the next election.

In addition to the government plans Labour would increase the number of hours of free childcare that the parents of 3 and 4 year olds receive from 15 hours per week to 25 hours. Increase the bank levy - as Labour has suggested - to pay for this and not only will parents get the help they need, but banks will also be making amends for the part they played in stunting the economy and living standards.

Ultimately, what we should be striving for are children who are well provided for and happier, more productive parents who enjoy more freedom of choice. It’s a big task with equally large rewards; whether the government’s 11th hour action goes far enough to compensate for four lost years of inaction is less clear.

You can read my speech from yesterday's debate here.


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