Council chiefs hit out over 'insufficient' childcare claims
Council chiefs have hit out at claims local authorities have a duty to provide childcare, after a national survey revealed costs increased by more than twice the rate of inflation last year.
A report issued today by the Daycare Trust finds childcare costs soared by 6% last year, more than outstripping the 2.7% inflation rate for 2012. The Childcare Costs Survey 2013 reveals costs for children under 2 years have increased by 77% in the last decade.
Just under a third of local authorities (31%) surveyed said they provide sufficient childcare around the school day and childcare for older children saw the steepest hikes of 9% making the average costs for 15 weeks at after school clubs increase to £49.67 a week – equivalent to £4,000 a year for a family with two children.
Anand Shukla, chief executive of the Daycare Trust, said: ‘We urge the government in this year’s Budget to find ways to support parents with the costs of childcare – without compromising quality.
‘Families are being expected to pay more for their child’s nursery place – an average of £14,000 per year in London – than the fees for many private schools – and this cannot continue,’ Ms Shukla addd.
However, in response, Cllr David Simmonds, chairman of the Local Government Association’s children and young people board, said the Daycare Trust was ‘incorrect’ in stating local authorities have a duty to actually provide child care.
‘Councils do all they can to help hard-pressed parents in ensuring there is good quality and affordable care available and have been lobbying for the end of government regulations which often stand in the way of opening new provision,’ said Cllr Simmonds.
According to Cllr Simmonds, the greatest boost to improve the availability of affordable child care would be to give local areas freedom to bypass national guidelines which prevent existing providers from expanding and encourage schools to open their buildings for after-school care.
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