New estimates from the Department for Education suggest parents in York were paying £5.20 an hour in 2023 to have their two-year-olds looked after – less than the England average of £6.07. For children aged three and four, childcare cost parents in the area £5.26 an hour, below an average of £5.90 for this age group. Currently, parents earning below £100,000 can claim 15 hours of free care for children aged three or four – but this will expand to two-year-olds from April of this year. The Department for Education surveyed 38 childcare providers for two-year-olds in York and 46 for those aged three and four. However, a children’s charity has said parents are still being ‘locked out’ of work by expensive rates. Ellen Broomé, managing director of Coram Family and Childcare, said high costs have been an issue for many years. Across Yorkshire and The Humber, average childcare costs for two-year-olds increased by 6.9 per cent to £5.21 an hour. England as a whole has seen a 6.5 per cent jump in fees. City of York Council’s executive member for education, children and young people, Councillor Bob Webb said: “Support with childcare costs and providing parents with the option of taking on paid work is welcome but that support should fully cover costs. “Government support to date hasn’t achieved that, pushing childcare providers into charging more for other hours of childcare to subsidise those hours the Government isn’t fully funding. “The cost of childcare needs to be considered alongside wage levels and housing costs to understand how parents and carers make ends meet. Ms Broomé added: “High quality childcare is key social infrastructure. “It helps parents work and narrows the gap between poorer children and their more affluent peers.” She welcomed the expansion of free care this spring – but said bringing prices down and making it accessible will be key, particularly when it comes to helping disadvantaged children. Separate figures from the Office for National Statistics show employment rates among young parents – particularly mothers – are significantly lower than their peers. As of 2021, just under half of mothers with a child aged two or younger were in work, rising to just 55 per cent for those with a toddler aged three to four. A Department for Education spokesperson said their plans could save eligible parents £6,500 per year, on average.
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