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Parents face childcare fees rise

Childcare costs in England, Wales and Scotland are continuing to rise, a survey by the Daycare Trust suggests.

The trust found parents in England paid an average of 4,576 a year for 25 hours of nursery-based childcare a week for a child under two years of age.

Parents in Scotland spent an average of 4,368 and Welsh parents spent 4,056.

The Daycare Trust is now calling for an election commitment from politicians from all parties to make a greater investment in childcare.

The trust's survey of Family Information Services found London and the South East had the highest childcare costs, with average prices for 25 hours of childcare a week ranging from 95 to 109.

The North West of England showed the lowest fees, with average weekly childcare bills ranging from 67 to 76.

Average weekly costs for 25 hours of care ranged between 78 and 84 in Scotland and from 78 to 80 in Wales.

The survey found nursery care for under-twos in England was up 4.8% on last year and up 5.1% for those aged two and over. Childminder costs for the under-twos was up 6.4% and up 9.2% for two-year-olds and over.

In Scotland, nursery fees for under-twos were up by 6.3% and up 8.3% for those two and over. Fees for childminders rose by 2.6% for all ages.

And in Wales, nursery fees for children aged two and above rose by 11.3% and fees for the under-twos rose 6.8%. Childminder costs were up 5.3% for the under twos and 8.1% for those aged two and above.

The survey also found the cost of after-school clubs has risen in England by 12.5% over the past year, whereas costs in Scotland and Wales have fallen by 2% and 4.9% respectively.

Daycare Trust chief executive Alison Garnham said: "Over the last year, families across the UK have been hit hard by the impact of the recession, with parents facing the strain of losing jobs, having their hours cut back or facing pay cuts - all of which is compounded further by childcare costs shooting up.

"We know that whatever the outcome of the election, there are tough spending choices to be made.

"However, we hope that all parties will recognise what a central issue childcare is for parents, and take up our policy recommendations as they build their manifestos."

A spokesperson for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said the Daycare Trust findings did not take account of the free childcare available for disadvantaged two years and all three and four year olds.

"The free entitlement for all 3 and 4 year olds is being extended from 12.5 to 15 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year in all local authority areas in England by September 2010," he said.

"We announced our commitment to extend the free entitlement to all 2 year olds more than a year ago.

"The first stage of implementing this commitment has already begun - through enabling local authorities to provide 10 hours of free childcare to 2 year olds in their 15% most disadvantaged communities."


This story is from BBC News Online.

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