A quarter of your income on childcare costs?

childcare costs quater of income

childcare costs quater of incomeThe challenge of holding down a job whist tending to our young families is a difficult one at the best of times, and it is being made harder by ever-rising childcare costs.

And now a report has revealed that it is families in some of the poorest areas of Britain who are being forced to spend more than a quarter of their incomes on childcare - a vastly disproportionate amount.

What we know

Across the UK, the typical parent who is paying for 25 hours of care each week can expect to pay £4,993 a year, equivalent to 18.9 per cent of their average earnings.

That is a massive chunk out of a household budget but according to research from Family Investments, the situation is a lot worse in certain areas.

Childcare costs in Ebbw Vale, south Wales, equate to 28.2 per cent of a parent's earnings, or £5,539 a year, whereas in Wembley, north-west London,care costs work out at £7,048 a year - or 26.7 per cent of a parent's income.

Not far behind is Newcastle, where parents face bills of £5,923 a year or 26.6 per cent of earnings, and Hackney, in east London, where bills of £7,626 a year take up 24 per cent of a parent's income.

Charities have warned that many parents could be forced out of work and onto benefits because they cannot afford to meet these spiralling childcare costs.

Help is out there

Childcare vouchers are a great way of reducing childcare costs and could save families up to £1,800 a year.

These are offered by some employers to help working parents meet the cost of childcare and work through 'salary sacrifice,' which means you can claim a certain amount of your salary in vouchers, on which you pay no tax or insurance.

If you can't afford a nanny, au-pair or individual childminder for your kids, why not try free early learning care? Under law, all three and four year-olds are entitled to 15 hours of free nursery education a week - for 38 weeks of the year.

Sharing a nanny with another family is another great way to keep costs down. NannyShare.co.uk and TheNannySharers.co.uk are both websites which bring together families looking for nannies.

Creating a 'babysitting circle' with a group of friends - caring for each other's children as and when needed - is another real money saver. However, while it's fine to do this under certain circumstances, you need to be aware of the legal restrictions involved, so be sure to check them out.

With the summer break now on the horizon, check out these further tips how to get help with school holiday childcare.