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Labour says parents facing a ‘perfect storm’ over childcare in wake of coronavirus pandemic

Labour calculated that thousands of nurseries could go to the wall without extra government help. (PA)

2 min read

Parents are facing a “perfect storm” of rising childcare costs and providers at risk of shutting their doors forever amid the coronavirus pandemic, Labour has warned.

New analysis by the party finds that the cost of childcare has sharply outpaced growth in wages since 2010.

And Labour warned that thousands of childcare providers were now at risk of going bust across England because of the economic impact of Covid-19.

The opposition’s findings are drawn from official figures on the country’s labour market, as well as 2010 and 2020 surveys on the cost of care by the Coram Family and Childcare group.

The analysis finds that childcare costs have soared most sharply in London, the North West and the East of England where nursery costs have risen more than three times as fast as wages over the past decade.

The cost of using a childminder has also risen twice as fast as wages in the West Midlands, London, the East and the North West, the data show.

The findings come after a survey carried out by the Early Years Alliance warned that 25% of all childcare providers felt it was “somewhat” or “very” unlikely that they would still be open in 12 months’ time — which Labour say means 19,000 are at risk of closure.

Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green said: “The Conservatives have created a perfect storm for working parents across the country, with a crisis in the childcare sector locking children out of early education and making it impossible for many parents to return to work.
“Ordering parents back to work without allowing them to access the childcare they need is a stark reminder that Boris Johnson is completely out of touch with the needs of working families.”

She added: “The Government must urgently provide targeted support to the childcare sector, and ensure that parents can access the childcare that they need.”

The opposition's call comes amid anger from some parents over the decision by some nurseries to keep charging families despite being in lockdown.

In a letter to the sector, published this week, the Competition and Markets Authority warned providers that they were leaving themselves open to legal action by parents — while the Government nurseries to “comply with the law and to be reasonable and balanced”.

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