The cost of childcare for young children has risen 4.5 times faster than wages in the South East since 2008, according to a new analysis published yesterday (Friday October 20).
The data, published by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) reveals average wages for those with a one-year-old child rose by 12 per cent in cash terms between 2008 and 2016, although pay is still falling in real terms.
Over the same period, child care costs shot up by 54 per cent, according to the research.
TUC regional secretary Megan Dobney said: “The cost of childcare is spiralling but wages aren’t keeping pace. Nearly a million parents working parents have eye-watering childcare bills.
“There is a real gap in childcare support for one-year-olds until government assistance kicks in at age two.
“Parents need subsidised, affordable childcare from as soon as maternity leave finishes to enable them to continue working so mums don’t have to make that choice between having a family and a career.”
In the South East, a single parent working full time with a one-year-old at nursery for 21 hours a week spent 20 per cent of their wages on childcare in 2016 which was an increase of 4 per cent from 2008, according to the TUC.
Two parents working full-time with a one-year-old in nursery for 21 hours a week spent 10 per cent of their wages on childcare in 2016, up from 8 per cent in 2008.
The analysis shows pressure is even greater on parents working full-time, especially single parents. A single mum or dad in the South East with a young child in nursery for 40 hours a week would need to spend nearly two-fifths (39 per cent) of their pay on childcare – showing how difficult it is to balance work and family life without working fewer hours or getting support from friends and family.
The TUC have said they would like to see universal free childcare from the end of maternity leave to help single parents and families – especially those who are younger or lower-paid – to progress in their careers after having kids.
The trades union group also called for more government funding for local authorities to provide nurseries and child care.