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London nursery fees could hit 80% of the average monthly wage in April

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Data source by the private pension provider, Penfold, has revealed that the average cost to put your child into a nursery full-time could hit £59.82 per day or £1,195.04 per month by April 2023.

If you’re based out of London this could hit a mammoth £86.78 per day or £1,735.65 per month – over 80% of the average UK wage.

A recent survey of 1,156 UK nursery providers by the Early Years Alliance revealed that almost nine in ten said that they would “probably” or “definitely” increase their fees this year. This means that in April it is expected that early years providers will increase prices by an average of 8%. With this in mind, private pension provider, Penfold has investigated the growing cost of childcare across the UK in 2023.

Considering the fees for under-twos in full-time nursery care at over 800 day nurseries across the UK, Penfold has found that the average cost to put your child into a nursery full-time is £55.39 a day or £1,106.52 a month.

If we compare this to the average UK salary, according to ONS data, the median annual pay for full-time employees was £33,000 for the tax year ending on April 5th 2022. On a £33,000 salary, your take-home pay will be £25,851 after tax and National Insurance. This equates to £2,154 per month and £497 per week.

This means that if you worked full-time and required full-time nursery care for your child, this would cost you over 51% of your take-home pay before you’ve even considered the cost of your bills, monthly living costs and other regular expenses.

The Most Expensive Places to Have a Child

Whilst the average cost in the UK to put your child into a nursery full-time is £55.39 a day or £1,106.52 a month. The most expensive country is England, with their average cost per day being £61.01 and £1220.19 per month. The cheapest country to put your child into nursery was Wales, with an average of £46.46 per day and £929.38 per month.

Whilst Wales was the overall cheapest country to send your child to nursery, the cheapest region was Ceredigion in the west of Wales with an average cost of £34 per day and £687 per month. This was followed by Blaenau Gwent in South-east Wales and Neath-Port Talbot in South-west Wales. Eight out of ten of the cheapest locations are in Wales.

Costs vs Wages

On average, if a single parent worked full-time and required full-time nursery care for their child, it would cost over 51% of their take-home pay before even considering the cost of bills, monthly living costs and other regular expenses. This is heightened if you live in London where nursery fees would take up 74% of the average monthly take-home pay. Even in Ceredigion in Wales, where Nursery costs are at their lowest, this would still be 32% of their monthly take-home pay.

Although women make up 52.7% of the UK workforce, 74% of women are the primary caregiver for their children, having to take short or long periods off work to look after the family, compared with just 26% of men. These spiralling costs mean that for women with two or more young children under two, childcare costs far outstrip their salary. According to a survey of 27,000 parents by Pregnant Then Screwed it was revealed that childcare costs had forced 43% of mothers to consider leaving their jobs and 40% to work fewer hours.

Not only is the rising cost of childcare an issue for parents across the UK but there are also inherent issues around being a parent whilst trying to navigate the corporate world. Many employers lack the flexibility required by parents, and women have found that their employers aren’t prepared to accept reasonable flexible working requests that would allow them to make childcare and working hours compatible.


This begs the question, if parents are forking out their hard-earned money on nursery fees and living costs how can they even begin to consider saving for themselves and their children’s future?

A survey of 26,962 parents of young children found that 62% say that the cost of childcare is now the same or more than their rent/mortgage. This rises to 73% for single parents, and 73% for parents who work full time, demonstrating that high childcare costs are a key driver for women being pushed into low-paid part-time work.

The cost of living will continue to increase, making it all the more important to start saving for a pension. Parents should not have to choose between providing for their children in the present and securing their retirement in the future.

Pete Hykin at Penfold comments, “The increase in childcare costs is pushing parents, especially mothers, out of full-time roles which stunts their career options but also widens the savings gap as they’re less able to contribute to their pension pots. The maternal pay gap which measures the wage difference between mothers and non-mothers is growing and with this increase in nursery fees and lack of support, this will continue to grow.

The biggest contributor to the gender pension gap is that women spend more time than men outside of paid employment doing unpaid caring, for example looking after young children or taking care of elderly relatives. Women perform 60% more unpaid work than men on average. As a result, Mothers make up the majority of part-time workers; they frequently do so to care for their children or other persons. Unfortunately, they pay dearly for attempting to strike a balance between these two positions.”

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