Rising costs have led to a drop in the number of parents using daycare centres for pre-school children, the government’s social policy unit SCP says in a new report.
Unemployment is the second most common reason cited by parents for removing their children from a crèche. Some 4,600 parents took part in the survey.
Nevertheless, only 2% to 3% of parents are working fewer hours because of childcare problems, the SCP said. Instead, friends and family are stepping in to fill the breach. In addition, flexible working patterns are having an impact.
‘In other words, reduced childcare is more likely to be the consequence rather than the cause of working less,’ the SCP said.
The survey showed in 2011, 120,000 children had a subsidised crèche place for the first time. By 2013, this had dropped to 94,000. The number of new children in after-school care fell from 91,000 in 2011 to 76,000 last year.
The government has reduced the amount of subsidies available to parents to pay for childcare considerably over the past few years. In 2008, the government paid four-fifths of the cost of a crèche place, but this has now fallen to 63%.
The number of young children in organised daycare has fallen 11% over the past two years, the national statistics office CBS said earlier this year.
In December 2011, some 322,000 children under the age of four – around 44% of the total – attended a crèche, but this had fallen to 284,000, or 39%, by the end of last year.
Hundreds of daycare centres have closed or gone bust because of the change, including the country’s largest crèche group Estro, which went bust in July.
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