Childcare costs to be slashed by £40 per week under new government plans

Parents with young children are under huge financial pressure

Kate Ng
Sunday 03 July 2022 19:04 BST

Parents of young children could see their nursery costs reduced by about £40 a week under new government plans.

The education secretary, Nadhim Zahawi, is expected to announce this week that rules around the number of children each adult can look after will be relaxed.

It comes after the Trades Union Congress (TUC) warned that the cost of childcare for parents with toddlers is “putting huge pressure on family budgets” as the cost of living crisis continues.

The UK has one of the most expensive childcare systems in the world, and rules around the ratio of staff-to-children in nurseries are stricter in England than in Scotland.

While at present, both England and Scotland allow a ratio of one adult to three children under the age of two, this changes for older children.

In Scotland, a ratio of one adult to five children above the age of two is allowed, whereas in England, it is one adult to four children.

According to The Times, the Department for Education is expected to bring the rules in England in line with those in Scotland.

Doing so has the potential to reduce the cost of childcare by up to 15 per cent, or up to £40 per week for a family that pays £265 per week for childcare for a two-year-old.

Zahawi is also expected to relax rules on where childminders can work, which will allow more people to become childminders.

Current rules mean that childminders are expected to care for children in their own home, or someone else’s property.

However, many potential childminders do not live in homes that meet this criteria. The changes would allow childminders to spend large amounts of time looking after children at other venues, such as community centres or village halls.

Last month, the TUC released figures that showed nursery fees for children under the age of two have risen by more than £2,000 a year since 2010.

The average annual nursery bill for a family with a toddler was £4,992 in 2010, but has risen to more than £7,200 as of 2021, the organisation said.

More than a dozen organisations, including The Fawcett Society, Maternity Action, The Women’s Budget Group, and Mumsnet, said last year that inadequate childcare policies were leaving tens of thousands of working parents financially devastated.

The groups found in a survey of more than 20,000 working parents that the vast majority (97 per cent) said childcare in the UK is too expensive, with one-third saying they spend more on childcare than on rent or their mortgage.

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