Leading article: The cost of unaffordable childcare has a cost


It has long been known that childcare takes a disproportionate slice of parental income in London, where the cost of everything tends to be higher than elsewhere, and some of this is offset by London weighting or generally higher pay. But a study out today shows that parents in poorer areas, whether of London or other parts of the country, can find themselves spending more than a quarter of their income in this way. Families in Ebbw Vale and Newcastle find childcare comparatively as expensive, if not more so, than those in Wembley and Hackney.

This evidence that the high cost of childcare is not something unique to London should alert ministers to the reality that this is a national problem and should be treated as such. The Government already recognises the value of good early-years education for the poorest children. It must know, too, that unaffordable childcare cannot but hold back the economy by keeping many people, especially women, out of the work force and curbing families' spending power.

But the assumption seems to have been that parents are not just prepared, but able, to pay for good childcare, and that tweaking the present combination of tax breaks, childcare vouchers and free nursery hours is all that needs to be done. We disagree.

The Government's move to increase the number of free nursery hours for children from the poorest families is welcome, but nothing like enough. One partial remedy, for taxpayers, would be to abolish complicated tax breaks and make childcare tax-deductible. But the best solution would be to increase, not just marginally, but drastically, the number of state nurseries with opening times that suit the unsocial hours many parents, especially at the lower end of the pay scale, must work.

No one denies that good childcare costs money, but private nurseries are closing in the current economic climate, and for many parents trying to juggle paid work and childcare the sums do not add up. If the Government is serious about helping families, it needs to stop tinkering at the margins and create the conditions that make this possible. Affordable childcare, where and when parents want it, has to be a priority.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Digital Optimisation Executive - Marketing

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's fastest growing, multi...

Recruitment Genius: Professional Sales Trainee - B2B

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: First things first - for the av...

Recruitment Genius: Creative Web and UI Designer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An experienced creative web and...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£17000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity is now ...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Caitlyn Jenner's first shoot is a victory - but is this really best version of femininity we can aspire to?

Sirena Bergman
The sun balances next to St Albans Church in Earsdon, North Tyneside.  

The world’s nations have one last chance to slow climate change

Michael McCarthy
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral