The high cost of raising a baby in London means that parents typically make a “loss” of more than £2,700 during the period they are entitled to maternity pay, a survey claims today.
It found the £139.58 statutory weekly pay that parents are entitled to after the first six weeks of leave comes nowhere near covering the average £221.99 they spend on their newborns.
This adds up to £7,325.67 over the 33 weeks they claim statutory maternity pay under government rules — a shortfall of £2,719.53, the study by comparethemarket.com found.
It also revealed that Londoners spend about a third of their salary on childcare in the first year of their child’s life. Almost two thirds of the capital’s parents worry about affording childcare, the highest proportion of any region in Britain and well above the national average of 57 per cent.
A similar percentage of Londoners feel anxious about the financial implications of taking time off work after the arrival of their child and almost seven in 10 fear that statutory maternity pay will not cover the additional expense of having a baby.
Simon McCulloch, director of comparethemarket.com, said: “Having kids can be a stressful business but it appears Londoners find it more stressful than most. As with so many things in life, it all comes down to cost.
“As the most expensive place to live in the UK it might appear to be unsurprising that people struggle with the cost of having a child. However, with average salaries higher than in the rest of Britain, you might expect parents not to be any more worried.
“The fact they are so concerned suggests that Londoners’ salaries, maternity pay in particular, haven’t quite kept up with the cost of childcare. Maternity pay levels are clearly pretty low, and the shortfall between pay and the cost of caring for a child is putting a lot of strain on many London parents.”
The £221.99 total average weekly cost of childcare is made up of £28.48 spent on nappies, £56.80 on childcare, £59.46 on food, £39.12 on clothes and £38.13 on emergencies such as illness. The figures were based on survey responses from 257 London parents.
Separate research published today shows Ealing has the most expensive childcare in London, with an average hourly rate of £10.84 for childminding, babysitting, nannying and day nurseries.
The figure, compiled from data on the childcare.co.uk website, which connects parents with providers, shows costs in Ealing are more than 60 per cent higher than in the cheapest borough, Barking and Dagenham, where the average hourly rate is just £6.68.
Across London the dearest average hourly rates for various childcare service are nannying (£10.35), followed by babysitting (£10.18), childminding (£7.11) and day nurseries (£6.16)
Richard Conway, founder of childcare.co.uk, said: “Iit’s interesting to see how much providers’ rates change based on location. We have thousands of providers across the UK and London prices are, as with most commodities and services, substantially higher.
“London sits more than 15 per cent higher than the average for the rest of the country.”
by : JONATHAN PRYNN