Last reviewed 17 June 2022

The cost of childcare for children aged under two has increased by more than £2000 a year in the last decade, according to analysis by the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

The TUC said its analysis showed that the average annual nursery bill for a family with a child under two had increased by 44% from £4992 in 2010 to £7212 in 2021, whilst statutory maternity pay has fallen in value at the same time.

The analysis also shows that childcare availability is shrinking, with only 57% of local authorities reporting sufficient childcare places for children aged under two years old.

A TUC poll of working parents with preschool children published in March also revealed that 32% of families spent more than a third of their wages on childcare.

The UK’s childcare costs are amongst the highest in the developed world, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and families are under increasing financial pressure as they face other rising living costs.

The TUC is calling for an urgent cash boost for the childcare sector, like the financial help given to transport networks, to give childcare workers better wages and a long-term funding settlement to make sure childcare is affordable and available for families.

The union body argues that childcare is a vital part of our economic recovery and investing in good-quality, affordable childcare would support working parents and help the sector recover from the pandemic. It has also criticised the Government’s proposals to relax staffing ratios in early years settings.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“Childcare should be affordable for all, but parents are spending a massive chunk of their pay packets on childcare bills, while their wages stagnate.

“This is putting huge pressure on family budgets at the same time as other living costs are shooting up.

“New mums are caught in a Catch 22. The UK’s miserly rate of statutory maternity pay means many are under financial pressure to return [to] work early and are then at the mercy of sky-high childcare fees.

“We urgently need to get wages rising to stop households drowning in bills.”