GOVERNMENT figures reveal the cost of childcare for parents in York ahead of an expansion in term-time entitlements.

New estimates from the Department for Education suggest parents in York were paying £5.20 an hour in 2023 to have their two-year-olds looked after – less than the England average of £6.07.

For children aged three and four, childcare cost parents in the area £5.26 an hour, below an average of £5.90 for this age group.

The Government made expanding free childcare a key pledge in last year's budget, in a drive to help parents back into the workforce.

Currently, parents earning below £100,000 can claim 15 hours of free care for children aged three or four – but this will expand to two-year-olds from April of this year.

The Department for Education surveyed 38 childcare providers for two-year-olds in York and 46 for those aged three and four.

Read next:

Nearly thirty traders lined up for new outdoor market in York

'Enough track to run a network' - York man's lifelong passion goes under the hammer

Nearly twenty per cent of people over 65 in York yet to have flu jab

However, a children's charity has said parents are still being ‘locked out’ of work by expensive rates.

Ellen Broomé, managing director of Coram Family and Childcare, said high costs have been an issue for many years.

She said: "At a time when family budgets are under extreme pressure, the cost of childcare is making it near impossible for families to increase their income by working more hours.

“And too many parents, particularly mothers, are effectively locked out of work as they can’t make the sums add up."

Across Yorkshire and The Humber, average childcare costs for two-year-olds increased by 6.9 per cent to £5.21 an hour.

England as a whole has seen a 6.5 per cent jump in fees.

City of York Council’s executive member for education, children and young people, Councillor Bob Webb said: “Support with childcare costs and providing parents with the option of taking on paid work is welcome but that support should fully cover costs.

“Government support to date hasn’t achieved that, pushing childcare providers into charging more for other hours of childcare to subsidise those hours the Government isn’t fully funding.

 “The cost of childcare needs to be considered alongside wage levels and housing costs to understand how parents and carers make ends meet.

“York is a very expensive city to live in, with wages that don’t keep pace with housing costs.

“That makes fully funded childcare support all the more important with families struggling enough already”.

Expansion of free care this spring

Ms Broomé added: "High quality childcare is key social infrastructure.

“It helps parents work and narrows the gap between poorer children and their more affluent peers."

She welcomed the expansion of free care this spring – but said bringing prices down and making it accessible will be key, particularly when it comes to helping disadvantaged children.

Separate figures from the Office for National Statistics show employment rates among young parents – particularly mothers – are significantly lower than their peers.

As of 2021, just under half of mothers with a child aged two or younger were in work, rising to just 55 per cent for those with a toddler aged three to four.

A Department for Education spokesperson said their plans could save eligible parents £6,500 per year, on average.