The Family and Childcare Trust’s annual childcare costs report shows that once again, the cost of childcare has increased above inflation.
It also notes that the number of councils with sufficient childcare provision for working parents has fallen below 50% (43%, compared with 54% last year), while gaps in provision for disabled children have also increased, with only 21% of English local authorities and seven per cent in Wales now having enough childcare for this group, compared with 28% in England, and 18% in Wales last year.
Speaking about the report, PACEY's Chief Executive Liz Bayram said:
"PACEY is very concerned about the findings in this report. We recognise the difficulties families experience due to the ongoing rise in childcare costs. While we welcome the extra support provided to parents through the new tax-free voucher scheme, and increased funding for free early years education, we share the Family and Childcare Trust’s view that the childcare system in this country needs radical reform. Considerable regional variations in take-up for free part-time education - with only 60% of those eligible taking up the offer nationally - is demonstrative of a system which is too inherently complex.
"The fact that under half of councils now offer sufficient childcare provision is cause for serious concern. It is simply not good enough that only 21% of local authorities can provide adequate levels of childcare for disabled children. Both central and local government must take urgent action to boost the level of childcare available to all families – and ensure that childcare professionals have the support and funding they need to provide childcare of the highest possible quality.
"We support the Family and Childcare Trust’s report in its call for an all-party independent review of childcare in this country, providing that it prioritises quality provision for children; looks to simplify access to funding for parents, and recognises the vital role childcare professionals play in our society."
PACEY is currently conducting its own sector-wide and parent childcare survey, the results of which will be published in March.