Childcare in crisis


Parents are facing hikes of seven per cent in the cost of childcare, coupled with a sharp drop in the availability of childcare places in England, according to the Childcare Survey 2024 published by Coram Family and Childcare, locking many parents out of work. A part-time nursery place for a child under two now costs an average of £158 per week in Great Britain.

Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities face the biggest challenges in accessing childcare, with only 6 per cent of councils reporting sufficient childcare for children with disabilities.

Councils are also raising concerns about the viability of the expansion to free early education entitlements begun in April. While 63 per cent of councils in England are ‘confident’ or ‘very confident’ that there will be enough places to meet demand for the current expansion (15 free hours for two-year-olds), just 28 per cent say the same about the expansion from September 2024 (15 free hours from nine months), and this falls to just 12 per cent for the September 2025 expansion (30 hours from nine months).

Families across Britain are also grappling with eye-watering childcare costs: the most expensive area in the country is inner London, where parents pay an average of £218 per week for one part-time nursery place.

Ellen Broomé, managing director of Coram Family and Childcare, says: ‘The new childcare support has the potential to be a game-changer for parents– many of whom have found themselves locked out of work because of childcare costs. But unless this policy is properly funded and supported, it could have the opposite effect, with families unable to access or afford the childcare they need and the most disadvantaged children set to miss out.

‘In this election year, we are calling on all political parties to commit to reforming our childcare system to make sure all children can access high quality early years education and all parents can make meaningful choices about work and care.’