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Childcare Costs 'Stop Parents Going To Work'

The spiralling cost of childcare is preventing parents from returning to work, with one in four saying they would like a job but cannot afford it, according to a study.

The cost of childcare has increased by 19% in the last year and the average hourly rate for hiring a nanny is now £9.80.

One in four unemployed parents say they would like to work but the cost of childcare was too high, according to childcare search website Findababysitter.

This increases to two out of five of 18 to 24-year-olds.

Half of the 1,000 parents questioned for the study said the Government was not doing enough to support families.

The website's chief executive, Tom Harrow, accused politicians of a "lack of understanding" and said he had met MPs to discuss Government policies a number of times.

He said: "They still think the local nursery is the only option."

The average hourly rate for a nanny was now £9.80, an increase from £8.10 last year and after-school nannies were charging £10 an hour.

The most unaffordable cities for childcare were Birmingham, Bristol, Oxford, London and Leeds.

Anand Shukla, chief executive of the Daycare Trust, said: "Finding affordable, flexible and high quality childcare is still - and will remain - one of the biggest challenges faced by families."

Sharon Greene, Unison's women's officer, said: "It is a sad fact that in 2014 women still face too many barriers in the workplace.

"The high cost of childcare is pricing many women out of their jobs, forcing them to give up work which puts family finances under massive pressure."

She added: "If the country is to recover from the economic downturn the Government needs to listen to working parents and take account of the needs of the modern workplace.

"That means providing funding for more affordable, flexible and quality childcare."

The coalition Government scrapped universal child benefit but last year announced that parents earning less than £150,000 would be entitled to claim £1,200 per child to help with childcare costs.

Free early education for three and four year olds has been increased from 12.5 hours to 15 hours a week.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: "Recent figures show childcare costs are stabilising after more than a decade of constantly rising prices.

"A survey for the National Day Nurseries Association found that 58% of nurseries are freezing their fees."

The shadow minister for childcare and children said Labour would introduce measures to help parents with before and after-school care and would extend free childcare for three and four-year-olds from 15 to 25 hours.

Lucy Powell, shadow minister for childcare and children, said: "Families facing a cost-of-living crisis are being failed by David Cameron, who is offering no help with the rising cost of childcare for hard-pressed mums and dads.

"Soaring childcare costs are a drag on our economy and lock parents who want to get back to work out of the jobs market."

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