A truer picture of how much childcare costs parents in England | Letter

I applaud you for attempting to quantify the costs of childcare for your readers, but your calculator is undercounting the true amount (How much parents have to spend in England – interactive calculator, 6 November).

Begin with the fact that your calculator tops out at 50 hours a week. Unfortunately, the brutal reality for many parents is that 50 hours is insufficient if your job is 40 hours a week and you have any kind of commute. I work a 40-hour week plus unpaid lunch breaks, and it is at least a 20-minute commute to the nursery, which is the shortest commute we’ve ever had.

Then, the average cost of childcare in London is apparently £7.31 an hour, which comes as a surprise to me, since ours has ranged from £8 an hour for a childminder to £12 an hour for a nursery and £14 an hour for a nanny – all in the outer boroughs.

According to your calculator, childcare costs me 33% of my after-tax income. The reality is that my childcare routinely eats up half of my very good wage. To date, 18 months of childcare for this solo parent has set me back more than £50,000, to which the government has contributed £2,200. The idea that the government offers any meaningful help to working parents (especially mothers) who are interested in maintaining their careers is laughable.
Alison Smith
Worcester Park, London

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