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14 September 2021

The UK has the third-highest childcare costs in the developed world

Only Switzerland and Slovakia have higher childcare costs than the UK among OECD countries.

By Polly Bindman

UK parents are burdened with some of the highest childcare costs for wealthy countries, according to OECD data, which places the UK as the third most expensive country among its members for childcare. 

Despite high costs, separate OECD data shows that the UK’s public spending on childcare is similar to the average for developed countries, at 0.7 per cent of GDP.

These figures have come under renewed scrutiny since a petition, calling for an independent review of childcare funding and affordability and signed by more than 100,000 parents, triggered a debate in parliament, which took place yesterday. 

The petition stated that a “lack of funding has resulted in 2,087 childcare settings closing in England in the first three months of 2021”. 

In the debate, Labour MP Catherine McKinnell, the chair of the petitions committee, argued that “helping with the cost of childcare and early education is one of the best ways for the government to ensure that families with young children – particularly those on low incomes – are not financially crippled by high costs”.

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McKinnell cites the OECD data as evidence that “however we look at it, we are close to the top of the list of developed countries for childcare costs”.

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[See also: How England’s social care crisis has grown]