Parents in England are spending a third (32%) of their average hourly wage on childcare, according to research by Nesta.
The innovation charity has found the situation is worst in the capital, with working mums and dads spending more than 40% of their median pre-tax hourly pay in four London boroughs. In addition, seven of the top 10 least affordable areas of the country are in London.
For lower-paid workers the costs are significantly worse. The median rate of one hour’s childcare is £7.31. This means that an individual earning the London Living Wage of £11.95 will spend around 61% of their pre-tax hourly wage on childcare, or 72% of their post-tax pay.
For a Londoner earning the national minimum wage of £10.42, those costs are even higher at 70% of pre-tax and 80% of post-tax hourly pay.
Commenting on the findings, TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said: “Childcare is a lifeline for working parents. But working families are spending more and more of their pay packets on childcare bills, and a lack of government investment is putting huge stress on nurseries and our already overstretched, underpaid and undervalued childcare workers.
“We desperately need funded high-quality childcare for all parents – and a long overdue pay rise for childcare workers.”
The figures also highlight a need for employers to provide more flexibility, according to Nowak.
He added: “Flexible working lets people both work and support their families.
“It’s how we keep mums in their jobs and close the gender pay gap. It gives dads more time with their kids. And it helps disabled workers, older workers and carers stay in work.
“I’d ask all employers to be as flexible as they can with their staff to help them balance their work and caring commitments.”
Charles Cotton, senior adviser for performance and reward at the CIPD, explained that the Joseph Rowntree Foundation had found childcare is a larger element of the household budget of low-earning families, so bosses that are able should try and support their workforces.
He said: “Anything that employers can do to help them reduce the costs of childcare would have a greater impact for low-waged workers. This could include flexible working, paid time-off for caring responsibilities, subsidised childcare, or aiding access to the Government’s Tax-Free Childcare scheme.”