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Forget mortgages; the real cost lies in child care

Child-Care-costsWe are a country enchanted by property; from rising house prices to mortgage deals, buying a house is a top priority for many.

How ironic then, that while we’re preoccupied with saving up for a house and working out how we’ll pay our mortgage, a report has revealed that families now spend more on childcare than they do on their mortgage.

A study released by the Family and Childcare Trust showed that parents are spending more than £7,500 a year on childcare for the younger child while sending the elder child to an after school club – almost 5% more than the average mortgage bill.

This number rises to a staggering £11,700 a year for the same family to use full-time childcare for both children – almost two thirds more than the average UK mortgage cost of £7,207. The study also found that some families may be spending more on childcare than they do on their weekly shop.

Childcare has now become the most significant monthly outgoing for families across the country, with the cost of having someone look after your children far outstripping inflation. Parents who use childcare in Britain now spend more than a quarter of their income on it, making it one of the highest rates in the developed world.

It’s little surprise then that the Government has been forced to tackle this issue; it will introduce a new tax relief for working parents, allowing those which children over the age if three receive 15 hours a week free childcare. It was recently extended to the country’s poorest families with two year olds. How much this will help remains to be seen.

What this study does highlight is that parents need to start planning for their childcare costs, allowing them to return to work and contribute to the economy. The sheer costs should not pose a barrier to parents wishing to work their way up the career ladder or contribute to the family pot. The government and businesses up and down the country should come together to  do more to encourage parents – especially mothers wishing to return to work – by either using flexible working hours or introducing direct childcare provision, while more should be done to help parents plan for these costs.

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