With nannies, nanny shares, au pairs, childminders, playgroups, creches, preschools, and after-school clubs, there are so many childcare services available in the UK that it’s enough to make your head spin. The cost of childcare in London depends on the environment, types of professionals involved, the ratio of children to carers, availability, etc.
The United Kingdom is one of the most expensive places in the world for childcare. A study by the U.K. government suggested the average annual cost of part-time nursery care is about £6000. In London, the cost exceeded £7500. The London Institute for Economic Affairs estimates that many are spending roughly one-third of their income on childcare.
The population density, average income, real estate, and home prices are all higher in London than any of the other metropolitan areas in the UK. These realities impact virtually all products and services within the city in the same way. Childcare is no different. It is little surprise that London is the city with the highest cost for childcare in the United Kingdom.
General Information On Childcare Costs
The average cost of a nursery has more than doubled in London since 2005*. Across the board, the cost of nurseries has gone up in London consistently. This trend has been even further exaggerated in inner London. Cost of childcare increased by nearly 20% in inner London since 2017, while outer London has seen a modest increase of roughly 2%.
However, the average cost of employing a childminder has either remained virtually unchanged or actually decreased in the past several years. In fact, the average cost of a childminder actually decreased slightly from 2016-2018 in London. The average cost of pick-up services offered by childminders also decreased in London during this period. Better means of communication and coordination between parents, childminders, childcare websites and agencies have made the industry more competitive and efficient, helping to lower the cost.
Families can also choose from a plethora of other childcare options in London, we explore the cost of these options below.
What are my options & their cost for childcare in London?
In London, the same general options are available as those across the UK. Nurseries, nannies, nanny shares, childminders, au pairs, and preschools are all options for childcare. Other possible options are relatives and babysitters for shorter periods and often less-formal care. There are also crèches which can offer childcare for a short period of time.
“Live-out” nannies in London make between £1600 and £2400/month*, depending on experience.
Live-out nannies with 3 or more years experience averaged above £13* per net hour, while the less experienced made closer to £11* per net hour.
“Live-in” nannies in London make slightly less – an average of about £1400/month*, plus the room and board they will receive.
Nanny sharing is something some people have been able to set up. It is where a nanny is split between two families. The costs become nearly halved per family, resulting in around £850-1200* per month. The difficulty is creating and maintaining such an arrangement.
For children aged 2 and under, part-time nursery care in inner London cost an average of £185/week. Full-Time nursery care in inner London cost an average of £343/week.
Part-time nursery care in outer London cost an average of £145/week. Full-time nursery care in outer London cost an average of £269/week.
For children over the age of 2, part-time nursery care in inner London cost an average of £174/week. For full-time the average was £323/week.
For children over the age of 2, part-time nursery care in outer London cost an average of 134/week. For full-time the average cost was £259/week.
All source from London Datastore
For children 2 and under, part-time childminder care in inner London cost an average of £155/week. For full-time the average was 307/week.
For children 2 and under, part-time childminder care in outer London cost an average of £135/week. For full-time, the average was £260/week.
For children over the age of 2, part-time childminder care in inner London cost an average of £154/week. For full-time the average was £305/week.
For children over the age of 2, part-time childminder care in outer London cost an average of £135/week. For full-time the average was £261/week.
All data sourced from London Datastore
Other forms of childcare
A babysitter in London averages between £8-12/hour. This depends on the neighbourhood. Ofsted registered babysitters are an option for those that require relatively little childcare – maybe a few hours a day a couple times a week.
Preschools are also available, costing around £15 for a session – typically 3 hours.
Au Pairs are live-in caretakers for your children. They usually look after them on a part-time basis and are compensated with room and board and typically a weekly stipend. This averages around £100/week in London.
Using a relative as a means for childcare is another option. While you might be able to get it for free, it isn’t a bad idea to pay. This will increase dependability and establish a more professional relationship in regards to the care of your child. One issue with using a relative, however, is the child often doesn’t develop the social skills that most of the other childcare options offer.
There are some crèches organised in London, as well, but these are difficult to find. Some are set up in working environments. Some are set up between a group of parents. The costs for crèches vary greatly but is generally much higher per hour than a nursery. For example, Cukooz Nest charges £15+/hr.
Source: Money Advice
Create a realistic solution that works for you
You will need to develop a plan based on when you need childcare, how many hours per week, where, and with what amenities, activities or social and educational opportunities, and the cost for each childcare option in London. Take into consideration the fact that, if you need childcare outside of typical nursery hours, you will require either a babysitter, childminder or relative to cover for the times when the nursery cannot look after your child.
Things to consider
Take into account transportation to and from the place where the child is being cared for. Most childcare services do not provide transportation, however, many childminders do.
Also, consider the number of hours you will require in total. Many nurseries charge for full-time and part-time childcare. They will also often charge by a day – around £80/day in London on average. They typically operate starting as early as 7 am (typically 8 am) and ending as late as 7 pm (typically 6 pm). Often early drop-offs and late pick-ups will come with additional costs. If you require childcare outside of this window, there are a couple nurseries offering childcare with earlier drop-offs and later pick-ups. For example, Baytree House Nursery in Catford and Little Angels 24/7. Even these nurseries, however, are only open 42 of the 52 weeks in the year, taking off weeks for holidays such as Christmas.
Consider a childminder
A cost-effective option, which also offers a lot of flexibility is a childminder. With technology being applied to the business of childminding, finding and coordinating with a prospective childminder is easier than ever. With nearly 3000 Ofsted registered childminders in London, it is possible to find childcare for your little loved-one that suits your needs perfectly.
Because childminders often work from their homes, they are more likely to be able to accommodate needs and provide services such as pick-up and drop-off. Due to the sheer quantity of childminders, you are also more likely to be able to find a childminder that will not only nurture your child but will also educate him or her and improve his or her sociability.
How many children to childminders care for?
Registered childminders can look after a maximum of six children up to the age of eight. Among these, no more than three can be under-fives and a single childminder can only have one child under one year old. This ratio includes the childminder’s own children if they are under age eight. The childminder can also hire other Ofsted registered childminders to increase the number of children in their care up to a maximum of 12. Or they may hire non-Ofsted registered assistants who can stay unattended with children for the duration of 2 hours with parental permission. This means that the high adult-to-child ratio will always be maintained. Your children also enjoy a more personalised learning setting with a high level of supervision.
How do childminding costs compare to other types of care?
Because of this, the cost of using a childminder is on average less per hour than any of the other childcare options. £6.20 for inner London and £5.20 for outer London are the average hourly costs per child per hour being looked after by a childminder. This is as much as 30% less than the hourly cost of using a nursery. This, coupled with the fact that childminders are more numerous, many are flexible, offer additional services, and develop more personal relationships with the children they care for, childminding is not only the most affordable but for many, the most accommodating childcare solution.
In addition, a large number of childminders have been certified in early years education. In fact, of registered childminders on Kwicare, around two-thirds have a level-3 certification, meeting the standards of an early years educator.
[Need help finding an Ofsted registered childminder in London? Check out our article for tips on finding the perfect childminder for your family.]
Comparing Childcare Cost trends Internationally, in the UK, and in London
The total cost of childcare in the UK is about 0.4% of GDP, while all pre-primary education spending adds up to 1.1% of GDP in the UK according to the Guardian. Total money spent on childcare and early years education are among the highest in the developed world, only Switzerland, and the Scandinavian countries spend larger portions of their GDP.
On average, just over a quarter of household net income is spent on childcare in the UK. This is the second highest rate in Europe. The average among developed countries is closer to 13%. The average cost of full-time childcare is approximately half of the average wage of an individual according to the World Economic Forum.
Making Childcare Affordable
Although these numbers make childcare in the UK seem quite expensive, there are plenty of programs which alleviate at least some of the costs of childcare for parents and guardians. These include programs for 2-year-olds, 3&4-year-olds, programmes to aid single-parent households, and further programmes for the financially vulnerable. There are also “tax-free” childcare schemes to aid parents and guardians, as well as the vouchers program, (though it is currently being phased out).
When these government programmes are taken into account, the effective average cost to the consumer is much lower, but for those that do not qualify for these programs, large childcare costs must be resolved by the individuals themselves.
Childcare costs have risen dramatically over the years. The cost of enrollment in a nursery has doubled since 2005. In London, childcare costs have increased 7.4x the rate of inflation according to the Guardian. Because of income dynamics, cost of living, and the eligibility for childcare assistance, London residents pay among the highest rates for childcare in the world.
While the average child in the UK utilises about £6000 in childcare services in a year, the average cost of a full-time nursery in inner London is about £17500/year, while part-time nursery enrollment averages about £9500/y. Outer London is a little less expensive, with £7500/y for part-time and £14000/y for full-time nursery care being the average. This is calculated according to information on the London Datastore.
Given the cost of childcare in London, and the assorted options available, a childminder is frankly the best place to start in your search for professional, nurturing childcare that will work for you and with you.
Many will have needs outside of the normal business hours and days of operation for nurseries. There is also the issue of availability with nurseries; the most accommodating are the most expensive and most difficult find a spot for your child.
Nannies have a lot of advantage, but for most, a nanny will be cost-prohibitive. Another downside to a nanny is the lack of socialisation that using a nanny provides. Using a nanny will not encourage prosocial behaviour in the same way that a childminder or nursery will.
All things considered, for socialisation, education, cost and accommodations, childminders are a great option. Another advantage is the sheer number of childminders available in London – more than 3000 – making it highly likely that you will be able to find a local childminder that satisfies your needs for a reasonable price and within close proximity to your home or workplace.