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High childcare costs forcing parents to cut down the hours they work, Labour warns

THE Tories are forcing parents to give up working hours or leave their jobs because of unaffordable and unavailable childcare, Labour warned today.

The party said it had analysed multiple surveys to highlight how soaring child care costs are limiting parents’ ability to work.

The annual cost of a full-time nursery place for a child under two years old has increased by almost £1,500 over the last five years, according to data from the Coram Family and Childcare annual survey.

For primary school children, the cost of after-school clubs has risen nearly 20 per cent over five years.

On average, parents are spending more on after-school clubs than on their weekly food shop.

And 40 per cent of parents responding to a recent survey by Pregnant then Screwed said that they must work fewer hours due to childcare costs, rising to more than half in households with incomes of below £50,000.

Labour hit out at a decade of Conservative governments for forcing the closure of 1,300 children’s centres, which has cut off support for families.

Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson said that Chancellor Rishi Sunak had failed to provide security to families in the latest budget, adding: “The Conservatives are making high quality childcare increasingly unavailable and unaffordable.

“Labour’s Children’s Recovery Plan would invest in early years places for children on free school meals and boost access to before and after school clubs, as families fight rising prices.”

National Education Union joint general secretary Dr Mary Bousted said schools must be given budgets to allow them to subsidise or provide affordable after school opportunities.

“Without free, or subsidised access to after-school clubs, what happens is families with spare cash can make sure their child has lots of interesting and varied things to do after school – which widens the gap in who’s getting these opportunities yet further,” she told the Star.

“Making after-school clubs and programmes more affordable is so important for young people having a varied week and sufficient exercise and also acts as vital childcare for parents.”

Dr Bousted demanded that the government provides adequate funding for free entitlement to childcare and ensures that provisions are universal.

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