Childcare 'is still a postcode lottery'

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The huge variations in the cost and availability of childcare have been revealed in a damning report that identifies a "postcode lottery" in nursery provision.

The study, which is published tomorrow by the Daycare Trust, shows that, on average, Londoners pay£168 a week for childcare, making the capital's nurseries more expensive than many private schools. Yet in the North-west, parents pay an average of £107 per week. The average cost of a childcare place in England is £128.

The findings also highlight the huge problems in finding registered childcare. In England there is now just one place for every five children. The problem is most acute in disadvantaged areas despite the fact the Government has invested millions of pounds in schemes to provide cheaper childcare for the poorest mothers to enable them to go back to work.

Yvette Edwards, a 32-year-old with three children, was forced to become a registered childminder herself because she could no longer afford to pay for childcare.

Ms Edwards, who lives in Greenwich, south-east London, said: "It's all a tough juggling act between finding a place, being able to pay for it and trying to get to work."

To coincide with the publication of its report, the Daycare Trust is launching the Childcare Challenge, a campaign to highlight the lack of support for many of Britain's poorest parents.