Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Chart of the Day
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”.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

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”.

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

Content from our partners
How to create a responsible form of “buy now, pay later”
“Unions are helping improve conditions for drivers like me”
Transport is the core of levelling up