Childcare in crisis


A sharp drop in availability of childcare in England, along with a significant rise in cost, is highlighted in Coram Family and Childcare’s annual Childcare Survey.

Only a half of local areas have sufficient childcare for children under two years old, and less than half can offer enough childcare for parents working full-time. And there has been a 6 per cent drop in the proportion of local areas who can even offer enough places to fulfil the universal 15-hour early education entitlement for three and four year olds.

These shocking figures reveal that, at a time when parents are struggling financially, a part-time (25 hour a week) childcare place for a child under two now costs an average of £148.63 per week, an annual increase of 5.6 per cent.

It’s the most disadvantaged children who are most affected, with less than one in five local authorities in England reporting sufficient childcare for children with disabilities.

There are significant differences in the cost and availability of childcare depending on where you live in England. Average weekly cost of a part-time place for a child under two is 54 per cent higher in inner London (£199.01) than in Yorkshire and Humberside (£129.32). In outer London, just 28 per cent of local authorities report having enough childcare for children under two, whilst the figure is 100 per cent for the North East.

The report also highlights how the cost-of-living crisis is impacting childcare providers: over the past year, nearly 1 in 2 local authorities say that some or many providers have had to reduce staff numbers and/or reduce their opening hours.

Head of Coram Family and Childcare Megan Jarvie says: ‘The need for reform of the childcare system is urgent. As well as eye-watering bills, parents are facing widening gaps in availability of the childcare they need.’

For the long term, Coram Family and Childcare are calling on the government to reform the childcare system to create a simpler and more efficient system that prioritises quality, guarantees a childcare place for every child, values the workforce and makes sure that parents only pay what they can afford. In the short term, they're calling for urgent steps to address the crisis now:

  • Review the funding rate for early education entitlements to meet the cost of high quality care.
  • Reform Universal Credit so it does not lock parents out of work.
  • Re-allocate underspend from tax-free childcare to other parts of the childcare system and realign Government funding towards low-income families.
  • Extend 30 hours funded early education to parents in training or education.
  • Improve support for children with SEND.
  • Double the Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP) to help close the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their peers.