Edinburgh childcare costs the highest in Europe

HARD-up parents are being forced out of work by childcare costs in the Capital – which are now the highest in Europe.

Mums and dads are having to decide whether to fork out up to £12,000 a year on child care costs or give up work and stay at home, a charity says.

The average cost of a private nursery place in Edinburgh is £38 per day, which works out more than some private schools – and outstrips what parents pay everywhere else.

Allowing for holidays, a child full-time at nursery at £38 a day will cost £8,740 a year – or potentially £34,960 before he or she turns four. The most expensive nurseries in the Capital cost around £12,000 a year.

The startling figures outstrip what parents pay elsewhere across the UK and Europe.

In Manchester, parents pay £29 on average a day, London £33 a day and Cardiff £30 a day. On the continent, French parents enjoy heavily subsidised child placements costing around £32 a week on average. In Sweden, childcare for the most affluent earners is capped at around £113 a month – with most parents having no need to send kids to nursery for their first year – as maternity ­payments are so good.

Save the Children researchers found a quarter of parents in severe poverty – earning less than £12,000 a household – had given up work and a third have turned down work due to high childcare costs. And a massive 63 per cent of parents, regardless of income, say they cannot afford not to work but struggle to pay for childcare.

Jennifer Jones, 32, of Silverknowes, said two-thirds of her earnings as a complaints advisor at a bank was spent on care for daughter Jessica Stepien.

The two-year-old is at nursery from 7.30am to 6.30pm on Monday to Thursday to allow her and partner Filip Stepien to work. “It costs us £800 a month and I earn £1,200 so it’s barely worth it. I feel like we’re being penalised for being two parents that work. I think people that don’t work have more disposable income than we do.

“It annoys me as I think the Government gets a lot of money from me paying tax, my partner paying tax and the childminder paying tax. We don’t seem to get anything back for it which doesn’t seem fair when we’re both working.”

She also complained about the government cap on untaxed childcare vouchers which come directly from a person’s salary.

Douglas Hamilton, Save the Children’s head of Scotland, said costs were pricing people out of childcare and forcing parents to give up jobs.

The charity wants the government to give 15 hours childcare per week and out of school care for five to 14-year-olds on low incomes for free and ­negotiate a universal credit.

He said: “Childcare is so expensive it’s becoming a luxury that only families earning a very good wage can comfortably afford. For families on low incomes they simply won’t earn enough to cover their childcare bill as well as living costs making work an unrealistic option.

“For many families it is impossible to make work pay. Parents in Edinburgh have told us they have had to give up jobs or turn down jobs. We hope that the Scottish Parliament will be ready to listen.”

Last Thursday parents from all over Scotland descended on Holyrood to demand an end to the crippling childcare costs.

Thousands of women quitting jobs

WITH a third of under-threes in formal childcare in the UK, mums and dads here pay more than anywhere else in Europe.

As a result, thousands of working women are being forced to quit their jobs. Research from children’s charity the Daycare Trust suggests 44,000 fewer families are getting help with childcare costs since the Government introduced changes to tax credits, while nursery costs have risen by nearly six per cent. This means as many as one in four working parents have been plunged into debt – and families are cutting back on food and heating.

The charity’s figures show the hourly rate for a child aged under-two up nearly six per cent while the increase for a child aged two and over is nearly four per cent.

‘We are better off with one of us staying home’

John-Paul Stothard, 35, a recruitment consultant from Clermiston, said he could not find affordable childcare for his six-month-old son William.

His wife Hazel is due to return to her job as a project manager early next year but the couple are finding it difficult to work the best financial course for the family.

“We’re just starting and I’m shocked at the prices,” said John.

“I looked at all different places but it was coming out at an average of £177 a week. When we added to that the cost of living with council tax and the rent, it came out as my salary. What is the point in me going to work for nothing? It’s quite grim when you look at it like that. I think we would be better off with one of us staying home.”

John-Paul, who earns £18,000 a year, said he looked at various benefits but they did not apply to his family.