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How much does childcare cost?

Find out how much childcare is likely to cost you and whether you'll be entitled to any help if you decide to return to work after having a baby.
One of the many things you'll need to factor in to your preparation for life-with-a-baby is how your finances will cope with the cost of childcare should you decide to return to work.

Getting an idea of how much childcare is likely to cost before your baby arrives will give you time to work out whether you will need to return to work full time, part time or can afford to stay at home.

How much will it cost?

While the information we have included below will give you a rough idea as to how much you should expect to pay, to get a more accurate figure you will need to do a little more research. This is because the actual cost will not only depend on which childcare option you choose but also on a number of other factors. These include:
  • Where you live -childcare in London and the South East tends to be more expensive than that available elsewhere in the UK

  • Your child's age - childcare for infants under two years of age tends to be more expensive as they require more one-to-one attention than older children.

  • What hours you'll need - many childcare providers will charge extra for care during non-standard working hours

  • Whether you'll need full or part time childcare - the number of hours you'll need care for will obviously have a large impact on the overall cost

  • What's included - whether or not 'extras' such as nappies and meals are included as part of the childcare package will have an impact on the value for money you get
How much does a nursery place cost?

While this will depend largely on the factors listed above, the Daycare Trust's 2009 Childcare Cost Survey found that the average full time nursery place for an infant under the age of two is currently:
  • £167 a week in England

  • £158 a week in Scotland

  • £146 a week in Wales

However, within England in particular the survey showed how dramatically the cost a nursery place varies depending on where you live. For instance the average cost of a nursery place for under 2s in Inner London is £226 a week, while in the East Midlands it's just £141 a week. However, some parents were found to be paying up to £400 a week for a nursery place - an amount that adds up to a staggering £20,800 a year.

For infants over the age of 2, the average cost of a full time nursery place is:
  • £156 a week in England

  • £143 a week in Scotland

  • £142 a week in Wales

How much does a childminder cost?

You're likely to find that the cost of care provided by a childminder is slightly lower than the equivalent cost of a nursery place. This is simply because their overheads tend to be lower as they more than often work from home. Additionally, as registered childminders are often self-employed you don't have to pay out to cover tax or national insurance contributions.

The Daycare Trust's survey found that the average cost of childminder care for an infant under 2 years of age is currently:
  • £156 a week in England

  • £155 a week in Scotland

  • £150 a week in Wales

For infants over the age of 2 the average cost of childminder care is:
  • £152 a week in England

  • £154 a week in Scotland

  • £148 a week in Wales

How much does a Nanny cost?

Childcare provided by a Nanny tends to be the most expensive option not least because you effectively become an employer and so have to cover tax and National Insurance contributions in addition to their wages. You may also need to pay out for a package of extras such as a car, gym membership and accommodation for your Nanny.

The cost of Nanny can range anywhere between £200 and £500 depending on where abouts you live within the UK and whether they are hired on a live-in or live-out basis. Nanny-sharing with other families is, however, becoming increasingly popular and can be a great way to make this type of care more affordable to normal working families.

Should I pay a relative or friend to look after my child?

If you have a friend that is kind enough to offer to look after your child this is something that's definitely worth considering. However, when it comes to payment things aren't quite so straightforward.

There's no such thing as standard payment when it comes to care provided by friends and relatives so this is something you'll need to negotiate between you along with other essential details such as holidays, hours, sick days and the like.

However, possibly the most important point to remember is that while you are able to pay a direct relative (such as a grandparent or sibling) to look after your child without any implications, if you intend to pay a friend for childcare they will need to be an officially registered childcare provider.

Where can I find out more?

When looking for appropriate and affordable childcare speaking to family and friends who live in your local area is always a good place to start. This will not only give you an idea about the likely cost but also help you to get a feel for which local childcare providers are going to be able to provide the best care for your little one.

The ChildcareLink website can also be a really useful way of finding registsered childcare providers in your area and gives you a good starting point.

Can I get help with the cost of childcare?

When it comes to getting help with the cost of childcare a number of avenues are available and you'll need to consider which option is able to give you the most value for money. Help is available via: Have you started thinking about whether you'll return to work after having baby and, if so, what kind of childcare you'd prefer for your little one? Why not visit the AskBaby forums to share the advice and experience of parents who've already made the decision.

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how much do childare vouchers pay up to for childminders for each child?
by heathermcconnell 19th Aug 2009, 9:08am

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