The point of putting the issue in context is that the rise in child care costs since 2010 is astonishing, and has made child care unaffordable for many parents. I shall say more later about the number of parents, particularly mums, who feel that the cost of child care prohibits them from going to work. I think that rather than questioning the statistics, Government Members should get real and do something about that. Waiting until 2015 to make a promise for tomorrow is just not good enough, which is why we tabled our new clause.
According to alarming new research from the Family and Childcare Trust, families are paying more on average for part-time child care than they are spending on their mortgages. They are handing over a staggering £7,500 a year or more for child care for two children, which is about 4.7% more than the average mortgage bill. Rising prices have been matched by the fall in the number of child care places. The number of places provided by nurseries and childminders has fallen by more than 35,000 since 2010, at a time when the number of four-year-olds has actually increased. Most worrying of all, there are 576 fewer Sure Start children’s centres than there were in 2010, which means that an average of three are being lost each week. At least, that was what we were seeing before the Government took their database down.