Chichester Chamber Blog
In My View…The Cost of Childcare
Office Chichester Chamber - Thursday, October 25, 2018
I was interested to read some new research commissioned by Yoopies on the impact that the Government’s 30 hours of free childcare is having on working parents. I was, however, particularly struck by the impact this is having in Chichester… As a working mother to two young children, this is a topic very close to my heart (and wallet). I went back to work when my children were very young and the nature of my job meant that the only feasible option was to employ a full time nanny. Whilst this is a decision that I have never regretted, it is a decision that has had a significant financial impact. Whilst I do support the move to provide greater access to free childcare, the Government scheme has had a number of unintended consequences. The first is the financial pressure it has put on nurseries. I have seen this first hand as I am responsible for managing a chain of childcare nurseries including a large site in Chichester – First Steps. Analysis by the National Day Nurseries Association showed that over the last year there has been a 66% increase in nursery closures. This reflects the significant financial pressures of delivering quality childcare on an hourly funding rate that is often less than £5 per child and often results in providers having to supplement the funded hours across non-funded hours in order to cover costs. This has had a further consequence in driving up the demand for alternative care including the cost nannies - over the last year, hourly costs have risen by 4.1%. The research also analysed hourly home childcare costs across the UK, highlighting significant regional disparity. The most expensive place in the UK isn’t London but, you’ve guessed it… Chichester. According to the report “The upmarket cathedral city in West Sussex, now tops the childcare ‘rich list’ with in-home carers demanding an average of £10.74 per hour, £2.24 above the UK average.” If you are a working parent this presents a major issue and is often a barrier to parents returning to work. The solution isn’t easy but, in my opinion change is needed – adapting the scheme so that funding could be used as a subsidy against any childcare costs would be a good start.
Julie Kapsalis, Chair of Chichester Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Chichester College Group