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Families struggle with rising childcare costs

Rises in childcare costs could force parents to quit their jobs, according to the charity Daycare Trust. A new survey showed that the average cost of nursery care inBritainfor children under the age of two increased by nearly 6% in the last year. Average wages rose by just 0.3%.

The average cost of nursery care for this age group is over £100 a week and the costs of child minders and nurseries for children over two years old rose by nearly 4% in the last year.

The Daycare Trust wants Government to boost the value of childcare tax credits to poor families and commit to free nursery education to all two, three and four year olds by 2015. Employers should also be encouraged to offer flexible working and childcare vouchers and local authorities should prioritise childcare in budgetary planning.

Anand Shukla, Daycare Trust's chief executive, said: “These above-inflation increases in the cost of childcare are more badnewsfor families, heaping further pressure on their stretched budgets.

“The Government’s decision to cut tax credits would mean some families found they were no longer better off going to work once they had paid for childcare. The figures reinforce Daycare Trust’s fear that the loss of this vital lifeline is forcing families out of work and into poverty.”

Anne Longfield OBE, chief executive of 4Children, added: “Parents are finding themselves trapped in a double whammy of needing more help with childcare because finances are tight at the same time that government is reducing its own spending in this area. The result is a cocktail of stress, juggling childcare and for some the difficult decision of giving up work. Helping them through these difficult times has to be a priority – locally and nationally – and this is why we are now carrying out our annual Children’s Centre Census.”

The Government said it is investing to help families. Children’s minister Sarah Teather explained: “Every three and four-year-old can already claim 15 hours of free early years education a week. But we want to go even further – so will extend these free places to around 40% of two-year-olds as well.

“We’re also investing an additional £300m to help families with childcare costs while they look for work, and will maintain the duty on councils to make sure there is sufficient childcare available for local parents. These measures will help parents and, most importantly, make sure even more children get a fair start in life.”

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