Grandparents step in as cost of childcare soars

Four in ten parents in Yorkshire are putting off having another child due to the cost of childcare. Picture: PA
Four in ten parents in Yorkshire are putting off having another child due to the cost of childcare. Picture: PA
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ROCKETING childcare costs and a misconception of Government help has led to an increasing reliance on grandparents to look after the children of working, middle-class parents, a new report has claimed.

High childcare costs are even putting off parents from having more children - with 41 per cent in Yorkshire saying they are thinking twice about increasing the size of their families, the Real Cost of Childcare report said.

Jenny and Ben Shipman, from Rotherham, with daughter Freya. Mrs Shipman's mother helps with childcare.

Jenny and Ben Shipman, from Rotherham, with daughter Freya. Mrs Shipman's mother helps with childcare.

The report, by independent investors Killick and Co, said that Government childcare schemes, are a “missed opportunity”, with only 28 per cent of survey respondents in Yorkshire currently using the allowance of 15 hours of free childcare for three and four-year-olds. Of those not taking up free hours, one in ten said they “didn’t know where to start”, and 5 per cent said the application process was too complicated.

The report said parents could save up to £8,384 using Government initiatives - but the public perception of savings is significantly lower, with parents in Yorkshire believing they could only save around £1,711 - almost 80 per cent less.

Just under half of respondents in Yorkshire, 45 per cent, currently use Childcare Vouchers, and 37 per cent had not heard of the Tax-Free Childcare Scheme, which began last year. In total, 56 per cent of respondents in Yorkshire got help with childcare from family, lower than the national average, with over 95 per cent relying on their child’s grandparents, and a further nine per cent using great-grandparents.

A third of respondents in the region believe the costs of childcare have increased significantly over the last two years.

Just under half, 42 per cent, have cut back on their working hours in the last five years due to the cost of childcare.

Call centre manager Jenny Shipman, of Bramley in Rotherham, said relying on her mother to look after her 16-month-old daughter Freya three days a week was “absolutely crucial”.

“Freya goes to nursery one day a week at a cost of £48, and without my mum’s help that cost would quadruple,” she said. “I would have to work extra hours simply to cover childcare costs and see my daughter less. Without her help, I probably wouldn’t be working.”

Simon and Kate Herring, parents of Quinn, two, were previously helped by her maternal grandmother but last August she moved back to her native Australia, meaning Mrs Herring was forced to condense her working week into four days instead of five to help reduce nursery bills.

Mr Herring, of West Hull, said: “We want to have another child but we have had to consider delaying it until Quinn goes to school because we couldn’t afford two lots of nursery bills.”

Head of Wealth Planning at Killik & Co, Svenja Keller, said: “Whilst life as a parent can be very hectic, a little early planning, regular saving and making use of financial incentives can all make a significant difference in the long run.”

THE GOVERNMENT doubled the entitlement for of 15 hours free childcare for three and four-year-olds in September.

A HMRC spokesperson said in the autumn term, an estimated 202,783 children were in a 30 hours place – 96 per cent of validated 30 hours codes. In Yorkshire, 95 per cent of 30 hours codes were validated.

He added: “More than 320,000 parents have an open childcare account. We want to encourage even more parents to take up the childcare offers they are entitled to and we are continuing to undertake activity to raise awareness amongst parents.”