A new report by Conservative MP Elizabeth Truss has called for an overhaul of the British childcare system to make it more affordable.
The average British family is being forced to spend nearly a quarter of its income on childcare, four times more than families in Germany, Norway, France and Holland, according to the research published by the liberal think-tank CentreForum.
Separate figures from earlier this year suggests parents pay around £200 a week for full-time care, £260 in London. Parents in other European countries spend around 10% of their income on childcare. Although the UK Government spends £7 billion a year on childcare support, this is weighted towards low income families.
The report suggests that the increase in costs is partly due to the decline in the number of childminders, which has forced parents to look for alternatives, including more expensive nurseries.
Since the mid-1990s, the number of childminders in Britain has halved. It’s claimed many were forced out of business by the costs of government regulation, which restricts size of premises and ratios of children to carers.
Current regulations limit a childminder to caring for six children under 8, where only three of the six can be under 5 and only one can be under a year.
The Government has suggested that while quality of care remains paramount, it will consider possible reforms to the system, including increasing the number of children each minder can care for.
Downing Street focus groups have consistently identified childcare as one of the top concerns for families.