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05/09/2018 - Working families' childcare costs outstrip wage rises, says TUC

kidanmumWorking parents with children under five have seen nursery fees rise three times faster than their wages over the past decade, according to new analysis from the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

The analysis shows that childcare costs have rocketed by 52% per week since 2008 for families with a full-time and a part-time working parent. Over the same period their wages have gone up by just 17%.

The situation is worse for lone parents. Childcare costs for a single mum or dad working full time have risen seven times faster than earnings. 

Fees in England are now on average:

  • £236 a week for a child under 2 in nursery, compared to £159 in 2008
  • £232 a week for a child over 2 in nursery, compared to £149 in 2008.

Over the past 10 years the growth in nursery fees for families with a full-time and a part-time working parent has outstripped wages the most in the West Midlands, followed by the South East and the North East.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Working parents have seen childcare fees rocket, as their wages have stagnated.

“Despite government support families still face eye-watering nursery bills.

“Britain’s cost of living crisis is having a huge impact on working mums and dads.”

Ellen Broomé, from Coram Family and Childcare, said: “Successive governments have rightfully invested in childcare but, while this investment has been welcomed, many parents remain frozen out of work because of high childcare costs,

“We know that high quality childcare boosts children’s outcomes, benefits the economy and allows parents to make genuine choices about work and care. But in the last year alone, childcare costs have risen by 7%. Urgent action is needed to make sure all parents are better off working after paying for childcare.”


The TUC has recommended that the government gives local authorities more funding to spend on childcare provision and is calling for increased support for parents through tax credits and universal credit.

The TUC analysis was undertaken by the economic research consultancy Landman Economics, based on data provided by the charity Coram Family and Childcare.