Back to Listings

97% of UK parents say childcare is too expensive, survey reveals

By Rachel Lawlerparents

Parents believe that childcare in the UK is too expensive and ministers are not doing enough to support families with the cost and availability of childcare, according to a new survey.

Conducted by Mumsnet, Pregnant then Screwed and other leading family organisations, the survey polled 20,000 working parents about their views on childcare.

Cost of childcare
Most (96%) said that ministers were not doing enough to support childcare and (97%) that childcare in the UK is too expensive.

A third of those surveyed said that they spend more on childcare than they did on their rent or mortgage, rising to 38% for those in full-time work and single parents and to 47% in families from a black ethnic background.

The survey was conducted in response to a petition calling for an independent review of childcare funding and affordability, which will be debated in Parliament later today.

Cost to providers
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, commented: “We know that the cost of care and early education is a huge burden for many families across the country - but the harsh reality is that without adequate government funding, costs are likely to continue to rise.

“For years, funding rates for the so-called 'free childcare' offers have fallen short of the cost of delivering places, leaving nurseries, pre-schools and childminders with two choices: increase fees to plug the gap, or risk going out of business completely.

“Given that the government's own policy documents describe fully funding the early years sector as 'unaffordable' and predict that inadequate funding rates will lead to rising costs for parents, it's hard to imagine that these survey findings will come as any surprise to anyone in government, despite all the talk of 'record investment' into the sector.

“Both parents and providers have been expected to put up with far too much for far too long. If the government is genuinely committed to providing affordable, quality care and education to children and families, it needs to ensure that our sector has the funding we need to actually deliver it.”

In June, the Alliance published private government briefing documents, obtained after a two-year Freedom of Information battle, which revealed that the government knowingly underfunded the early years sector for years and that ministers had predicted that early years funding levels, alongside the introduction of the 30 hours, would lead to increased costs for parents, particularly parents of younger children. The documents are available here.

Find out more
Alliance FOI investigation findings