From education to employment

Childcare costs outstripping wages as Conservatives fail to support families

Bridget Phillipson, Shadow Secretary of State for Education

Childcare costs for primary school age children are soaring faster than wages, Labour has revealed, as the Party warns that the Conservatives are failing to support families facing a tidal wave of cost of living pressures.

Speaking to the National Association of Headteachers on the 30th April, Bridget Phillipson MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, will warn that for too many families the cost of after-school clubs is more than parents earn in that time, meaning children are denied enriching opportunities which build on classroom learning by teaching resilience and social skills.

New Labour analysis shows that the cost of a week of after-school clubs has risen faster than average weekly wages over the last five years, with parents spendingmore on after-school clubs than on their weekly food shop.

A decade of Conservative governments have squeezed school budgets forcing headteachers to strip back extracurricular activities such as breakfast and after-school clubs, with recent polling showing a fifth of primary schools are making cutbacks.

To boost children’s social development after the pandemic isolation, Labour’s Children’s Recovery Plan would give all children access to breakfast clubs and after-school activities for free, boosting children’s wellbeing post-pandemic, and support working parents juggling childcare around the school day.

Bridget Phillipson MP,Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said:

“Childcare costs are spiralling but wages simply aren’t keeping up, putting yet more pressure on families facing a cost of living crisis.

“The Tories are doing nothing to help families now. Instead, they’ve made it worse with fifteen Tory tax rises and twelve years of neglect, forcing schools to cut back on clubs and activities for children.

“Labour’s Children’s Recovery Plan would give every child access to before and after-school clubs, and we would put money back in families’ pockets with a windfall tax on oil and gas producers, saving working families up to £600 off their energy bills.”

  • Weekly cost of after-school clubs has risen faster than weekly wages:  
 2018 (£)2022 (£)Change (£)% change
A week’s after-school clubs56.8266.759.9317%
Average weekly wages4835567315%

Source: Cost of after-school clubs: Coram 2018/2022

Source: Average weekly wages: ONS 2018/2022[tab 3, AWE regular pay]

  • Parents face average price rises of nearly £400 per child:

£9.93 [cost increase] * 38 [weeks in average school year] = £377.34

  • “The government is forcing schools to cut back on staff, support for pupils, and activities that enrich the school day.”
  • A quarter (25%) of primary school senior leaders also report that they have had to cut trips and outings, and 20% sport and extracurricular activities. In the wake of a pandemic that deprived many children of experiences outside the home, access to these activities and experiences has never been more important.”

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