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Childcare Costs in the North and South of England

Posted in: Research Last updated: 27 Dec 2012

Mums in the South of England have to work one week more than those in the North before they break even on their childcare costs.

Analysis of average earnings and childcare costs by Family Investments, a leading supplier of financial solutions for the family, has found that working mums in the South of England have to work 42 hours a year more than those in the North to cover their childcare costs - equivalent to an additional week's work for most mums*.

Regionally the differences are even greater. Mums working full time in the South West earn an average of £10.72 an hour and need to work a total of 18 weeks a year (or 674 hours) before they break even and meet their childminder or nursery costs which amount to an average of £7,228 over a year.

Mums in the West Midlands by contrast earn an average of £10.97 an hour and need to work for 15 weeks a year (or 554 hours) before they cover their costs which are equivalent to an average of £6,086 a year.

   Ave. childcare cost per hour  Annual cost of childcare  Ave. female hourly earnings  Number of weeks work required per year to meet childcare costs
 West Midlands  £3.22 £6,086  £10.97  15.2 
 North West  £3.30 £6,232  £11.02  15.6 
 North East  £3.45  £6,524 £10.78  16.6
 Scotland  £3.75 £7,082  £11.59  16.8 
 London  £4.91 £9,283 £15.07  16.9 
 East Midlands  £3.52 £6,645  £10.57  17.3 
 East of England  £3.91 £7,397  £11.72  17.4 
 Wales  £3.70 £7,001  £10.95  17.6 
 Yorkshire & Humberside  £3.63 £6,853  £10.67  17.7 
 South East  £4.27 £8,067  £12.44  17.9 
 South West  £3.82 £7,228  £10.72  18.6 

The analysis** is based on childminder and nursery cost data from local authorities across the country as well as earnings data from the Office of National Statistics.
 
Outside of England, the analysis found that mums working full-time in Wales need to work for 17.6 weeks before they break even on their childcare costs, while those in Scotland have to work for 16.8 weeks.

Commenting on the research Kate Moore, Head of Savings and Investments at Family Investments said: "In the North versus South stakes, affordability of care means mums in the North have to work fewer hours before their care costs are met and the difference is equivalent to a week a year. The differences in affordability of childcare are even greater when you dig down and look at the regions with mums in the West Midlands having to work significantly fewer hours before they break even on their childcare costs than those in the South West.

"What really jumps out from these figures is both the scale of the costs involved and the disparities in local affordability."

"These figures highlight the very significant costs mums face if they choose to return to work after maternity leave and the fact that they will spend up to four months of the year simply working towards these costs. Mums can get up to 15 hours of care per week for free once their child turns three, but for the first couple of years parents must saddle these costs on their own.

"What really jumps out from these figures is both the scale of the costs involved and the disparities in local affordability. It is important that the government address this disparity which at present means, parents in some parts of the country find childcare, much less affordable than others. We hope that the government acknowledge this issue in the Childcare Commission which is due to report back soon and we believe further research is required to determine why these regional disparities exist." 

-ENDS-

Notes to Editors

  • Based on a working week of 36.3 hours. Office of National Statistics - Hours worked in the labour market - 2011, 8th December 2011
  • In looking at the "North", data on the North West, North East and Yorkshire and Humberside has been grouped. In looking at the "South", data on the South East, South West and London has been grouped.
  • Family Investments commissioned a survey of 124 local authorities undertaken by economics consultancy SQW who provided care costs for childminder and nursery costs. ONS data on full time pay for females has also been taken into account.