Childcare providers voice concern over financial struggle of parents in London

By Janaki Mahadevan

| 25 May 2012

Nearly half of childcare providers in London are facing financial pressures as parents increasingly struggle to pay their fees, a survey by the Daycare Trust has found.

Sixty five per cent of providers said councils had reduced training. Image: David McCullough

The annual London Childcare Providers Survey revealed that out of more than 422 nurseries, childminders, playgroups, breakfast and holiday clubs, 44 per cent felt parents’ ability to pay for childcare was putting the biggest financial strain on their services, up from 32 per cent last year.

A quarter said cuts to local authority services were hitting them hardest, with 65 per cent reporting a reduction in training; 55 per cent saying general support had dropped and 45 per cent reporting a reduction in services offered by children’s centres.

Sixty one per cent of settings said local authorities were increasingly charging for training, up from 45 per cent last year.

The majority of providers backed a call for government to adjust the level of free entitlement grant funding that councils receive according to the local costs of provision.

Anand Shukla, chief executive of the Daycare Trust, said: “Our research shows that potentially tens of thousands of childcare places in London are at risk, as sustainability is threatened because parents simply cannot afford their fees.

“Parents in London pay higher fees than anywhere else in the country, and are being hit hardest by the cuts to childcare tax credits.

“As the Mayor of London begins his new term of office and sets out plans for the forthcoming four years, childcare providers across the capital are urging him to make childcare a key part of his agenda.”

When asked about a number of policy proposals for tackling childcare problems in London, providers said mayor Boris Johnson should lobby government to reverse the cut to the childcare element of tax credits, promote family-friendly practices and childcare vouchers; include early years in his education inquiry; and promote a campaign on parental rights to childcare.

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