Weekly Childcare Costs

Education – in the House of Commons at on 12 June 2023.

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Photo of Luke Pollard Luke Pollard Shadow Minister (Defence)

What recent estimate she has made of the average weekly cost of childcare for households with (a) one child and (b) two or more children.

Photo of Claire Coutinho Claire Coutinho The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The cost of childcare depends on hours used a week over weeks per year, provider type, child’s age and region. For this reason, the Department does not produce an official estimate of the average weekly cost of childcare by the number of children in a household. However, this year, Coram estimates the cost of using 25 hours a week of childcare for a child aged under two in a nursery as, on average, £151 across England.

Photo of Luke Pollard Luke Pollard Shadow Minister (Defence)

In low-wage economies such as Plymouth, families are struggling to afford decent childcare and are having to choose between working all the hours God sends to afford the nursery bills and leaving the workforce to look after the kids at home. I look forward to meeting the Secretary of State tomorrow to talk about how we can keep south-west nurseries financially afloat, but mums and dads need to be kept afloat as well. What can the Minister do to make childcare more affordable and, importantly, not just load those additional costs on to nurseries that are already struggling to pay their bills?

Photo of Claire Coutinho Claire Coutinho The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

I completely recognise that this has been difficult for families, but that is exactly why we are taking action. We are making the single largest ever investment in childcare. We will be doubling the amount we spend on it by 2027-28, and that will start with additional funding this year.

Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill Chair, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, Chair, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

Parents were delighted to hear in the spring Budget of the extension of childcare provision, which is being phased in to allow the sector to gear up, recruit and train. Will my hon. Friend give me an update on how that is progressing, in terms of having enough highly skilled people in place to do that important work?

Photo of Claire Coutinho Claire Coutinho The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

That is the crucial issue when it comes to delivery, and we have already taken steps. We are consulting on flexibilities for the sector to make sure that we have the right people in place for the first part of the roll-out, which will be in April 2024. We have also been making sure that more funding is going into the system this year.

Photo of Helen Hayes Helen Hayes Shadow Minister (Education)

The early years sector has had three months to absorb the Government’s Budget announcement on childcare. Wherever I go in the country, early years professionals tell me that without a plan for expanding and developing the workforce and securing additional premises, the Government’s approach will deliver neither affordable childcare for parents nor high-quality early years education for children. They are clear that relaxing ratios is not the solution they need. What does the Minister intend to do about the deficit in the Government’s plans?

Photo of Claire Coutinho Claire Coutinho The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

As I said, we have already set out some flexibilities in a consultation that was published last week, and I urge every single person in the early years sector to look at that. I urge the hon. Lady to look at it too, because there are much wider flexibilities in there: for example, looking at qualifications relaxations. Overall, the Government have set out the single largest ever investment into childcare; Labour has not set out a plan at all.