Reporting year 2022

Childcare and early years survey of parents

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  1. Release updated to remove '2022 Childcare and early years survey of parents - Technical Report (pdf, 695 Kb)' to be replaced with a methodology page. Additional key statistics box added ('Proportion of working mothers with children aged 0-14 who said that having reliable childcare helps them go to work'), typo corrected and key statistics boxes re-ordered. Plus edits to the data guidance page and next update date.

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Introduction

This Official Statistics release provides the main findings of the 2022 wave in the Childcare and Early Years Survey of Parents series.  

The survey is funded by the Department for Education (DfE) and managed by Ipsos. It aims to provide information to help monitor the progress of policies and public attitudes in the area of childcare and early years education.

The 2022 survey reports the findings of interviews, conducted between April 2022 and February 2023, with a nationally representative sample of 6,017 parents with children aged 0 to 14 in England. More information on the background and methodology to the study can be found in the Technical Report.

For ease of interpretation, data from the 2022 survey wave is compared with, in most instances, the most recently comparable survey wave, which varies depending on the specific data under analysis.  In several instances longer-term trends have been described where data from 2022 is compared with earlier survey waves.

Where differences are commented upon, e.g. as increases or decreases, or differences between sub-groups, these differences are statistically significant. Where differences are not statistically significant, they are described as being ‘in line with’ or ‘unchanged from’ previous figures.

This report summarises key findings from the survey. More detailed findings can be found in the Accompanying Tables (referenced throughout).

Defining childcare

The study uses a very inclusive definition of childcare and early years provision. Parents were asked to include any time that the child was not with a resident parent, or a resident parent’s current (or ex-) husband, wife, or partner.

Formal providers: include nursery schools, nursery classes, reception classes, special day schools, day nurseries, playgroups, childminders, nannies or au-pairs, baby-sitters, breakfast clubs, after-school clubs and holiday clubs.

Informal providers: include grandparents, older brothers/sisters, other relatives, friends or neighbours.


Headline facts and figures - 2022

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Use of childcare and early years provision

This section discusses the use of childcare, both formal and informal childcare and holiday childcare, among families and among children.  The section also comprises reasons for using and for not using childcare, along with views on local childcare provision and how it could be improved. 

Overall use of childcare 

Among families

Overall, in 2022, seven in ten (70%) families in England with children aged 0 to 14 had used some form of childcare during their most recent term-time week (Accompanying Table 1.1). This is in line with 2021 when 69% of families had used childcare. 

Families with children aged 0 to 4 years only were more likely to use childcare than families with older children. Around four in five (81%) families with children aged 0 to 4 years only had used some form of childcare and among families with children aged 5 to 14 years only, 64% had used some form of childcare.  These figures were comparable to 2021 where 80% of families with children aged 0 to 4 years only and 61% of families with children aged 5 to 14 years only had used childcare.

Looking at more long-term trends in use of childcare, between 2010 and 2017 the percentage of families using any childcare remained stable, but from 2018 the percentage of families using childcare started to decline. In 2017, 79% of families used some form of childcare, but in 2021 this had declined to 69% and remained unchanged in 2022 at 70%.  There was no difference in this pattern by the age of the children in the family. 

Among children

Among children aged 0 to 14 years, just under three in five (58%) had received some form of childcare during their most recent term-time week (Accompanying Table 1.6), in line with 2021 (57%). 

There were differences in the use of childcare by the age of the children with younger children being more likely to receive childcare compared to their older counterparts. Among children aged 0 to 4 years, around seven in ten (71%) had received some form of childcare (Table 1.7), in line with 2021 (68%). Among children aged 5 to 11 years this drops to around three in five (59%), in line with 2021 (57%), and among children aged 12 to 14 years, just over two in five (44%) had received some form of childcare, in line with 2021 (39%). 

The long-term trends in use of childcare among children show that between 2010 and 2017 there was an increase in childcare use, but since 2018 there has been a decline. In 2018, 65% of children received some form of childcare, in 2021 this had declined to 57% and remained unchanged in 2022 at 58%.  There were also some differences in the trend by the age of the children receiving childcare. Whilst there was a decline in the use of childcare for all children, the decline was greatest among older children particularly those aged 5 to 11 years. In 2018, 68% of 5 to 11 years olds received childcare but in 2022 this had declined to 59%, whilst the comparable figures for 0 to 4 year olds were 73% in 2018 and 71% in 2022. 

Use of formal childcare

Among families

Just under three in five (58%) families had used formal childcare in 2022, in line with 2021 (55%) (Accompanying Table 1.1).

Families with children aged 0 to 4 years only were much more likely to use formal childcare than families which only contained children aged 5 to 14 years.  Seven in ten (71%) families containing 0 to 4 year olds only had used formal childcare, in line with 2021 (69%), but among families with children aged 5 to 14 years only, around half (49%) had used formal childcare, which was a rise from 44% in 2021.

Among children

Just under half (47%) of children aged 0 to 14 years had received formal childcare in 2022 (Accompanying Table 1.6), a rise from 44% in 2021.

There were differences in receipt of formal childcare by the age of the children.  Receipt of formal childcare was highest among younger children, being received by a majority (62%) of children aged 0 to 4 years, which is in line with 2021 (59%).  This is compared to just under half (47%) of children aged 5 to 11 years (in line with 2021 at 44%) and 30% of 12 to 14 year olds (which was a rise from 25% in 2021) (Accompanying Table 1.7).

Among children receiving formal childcare, younger children spent more time in childcare than did their older counterparts. Children aged 0 to 4 spent a median of 24.0 hours a week in formal childcare. This fell sharply to 3.5 hours among children aged 5 to 11, and 2.5 hours among children aged 12 to 14. These hours were unchanged since 2021 for all age groups (the equivalent figures for 2021 are 22.0 hours for 0 to 4 year olds, 4.0 hours for 5 to 11 year olds and 2.5 hours for 12 to 14 year olds). 

Children aged 0 to 4 years received formal childcare from a range of providers, principally day nurseries (21%, an increase since 2021 from 13%), nursery schools (12%, a decrease since 2021 from 17%), and reception classes (also 12%, in line with 2021, 11%). Those aged 5 to 11 most often received formal childcare from after-school clubs (36%, in line with 2021, 33%), but also from breakfast clubs (10%, in line with 2021, 9%). Older children received the great majority of their formal childcare from after-school clubs (28% among children aged 12 to 14 years, in line with 2021, 24%).

Turning to long-term trends in formal childcare use, there was an increase in formal childcare use among both families and children between 2014 and 2017, but from 2018 there was a decline in use. Among families, 66% used formal childcare in 2017, which declined to 62% in 2018, by 2021 this had declined to 55% and remained stable in 2022 at 58% (Accompanying Table 1.1). Among children, 55% received formal childcare in 2017, but in 2018 this had decreased to 52% and in 2021 to 44% and although the percentage increased in 2022 to 47% this was still a decrease from 2017 (Accompanying Table 1.7). The recent downward trend does not seem to be driven by a decrease in use of any particular type of provider but a more general decrease across all providers. 

There were some differences in the long-term trends in formal childcare use by ages of the children.  Among all children there was an increase in formal childcare between 2014 and 2017, but there were differences in the decline in use after 2018 by age of the children.  Older children, particularly those aged 5 to 11 years experienced a greater decline in formal childcare use after 2018 than children aged 0 to 4 years.  In 2018, 62% of 0 to 4 year olds received formal childcare, in 2021 this declined to 59%, but in 2022 rose back up to 2018 proportions at 62%.  For 5 to 11 year olds, 55% received formal childcare in 2018, but in 2021 this had decreased to 44% and despite increasing to 47% in 2022, the percentage was still lower than in 2018. 

The characteristics associated with children’s likelihood of receiving formal childcare included:

  • The child’s age: Children aged 3 to 4 years were most likely to receive formal childcare (81% among children aged 3 years, unchanged from 2021, and 90% among children aged 4 years, up from 86% in 2021). Children aged 12 to 14 were least likely to receive formal childcare (30%, up from 25% in 2021) (Accompanying Table 1.6);
  • The deprivation level of the local area: 64% of children living in the least deprived areas received formal childcare (a rise from 56% in 2021), compared to 37% of children living in the most deprived areas (in line with 35% in 2021) (Accompanying Table 1.3);
  • The family’s (gross) annual income: 59% of children in families earning £45,000 or more received formal childcare (in line with 57% in 2021), compared to 27% of those in families earning under £10,000 (in line with 30% 2021) (Accompanying Table 1.3);
  • The family structure and work status: children in dual-working couple families, and in working lone-parent families, were most likely to receive formal childcare (57% for children in dual-working couple families, in line with 54% in 2021, and 44% for children in working lone-parent families, in line with 42% in 2021). Children in couple families with neither parent in work, and in non-working lone-parent families, were least likely to receive formal childcare (35% for children in couple families with neither parent in work, a rise from 22% in 2021, and 29% for children in non-working lone-parent families, in line with 30% in 2021) (Accompanying Table 1.3).

Use of informal childcare among children

Around two in five (21%) children received informal childcare in 2022 (Accompanying Table 1.6), in line with 2021 (22%). Children were most likely to receive informal childcare from their grandparents (17%), which is in line with 2021 (also 17%). 

Turning now to the use of informal childcare among the different ages of children. Children aged 0 to 4 years were more likely to receive informal childcare than older children. Over a quarter (27%) of 0 to 4 year olds received informal childcare, whilst two fifths (21%) of children aged 5 to 11 years and 15% of 12 to 14 year olds received informal childcare, all of which were in line with 2021 (Accompanying Table 1.7).

Children aged 0 to 4 years received more hours per week in informal childcare than older children. Children aged 0 to 4 years spent a median of 9.5 hours a week in informal childcare (Accompanying Table 1.9), whilst children aged 5 to 11 years spent a median of 4.5 hours a week and children aged 12 to 14 years spent a median of 5.3 hours a week. The number of hours spent in informal childcare for all children was similar to 2021 (9.0 hours for 0 to 4s, 5.9 hours for 5 to 11s and 4.0 hours for 12 to 14s). 

Children of all ages were most likely to receive informal childcare from grandparents, with smaller proportions receiving care from other relatives, friends or neighbours and older siblings (Accompanying Table 1.7). Just under a quarter of children aged 0 to 4 years received informal childcare from grandparents (24%), 3% from other relatives, 1% from friends or neighbours and under 1% by an older brother or sister.  Among children aged 5 to 11 years, 16% received care from grandparents, 3% by other relatives, 2% by friends or neighbours, and 2% by an older brother or sister. Among children aged 12 to 14 years 9% received care from grandparents, 4% from an older brother or sister, 2% from other relatives, and 1% by friends or neighbours.  All of these percentages were in line with 2021. 

Although there has been little change in the use of informal childcare between 2021 and 2022 (Accompanying Table 1.7), looking at more long-term there has been a change in the year on year trends.  Between 2010 and 2015, the use of informal childcare increased among all children, but from 2017 onward that trend changed and the use of informal childcare began to decline.  In 2017 and 2018, 28% of children received informal childcare, but in 2021 this had reduced to 22% and in 2022 to 21%.  There were no differences in the trend by the age of the children. 

Use of holiday childcare among school-age children 

Parents with school age children were asked about their use of childcare during the school holidays.

Around two in five (41%) families with school-age children used childcare during school holidays (Accompanying Table 7.1), in line with 2021 (39%). Just over one in five (22%) families used formal childcare during school holidays, a rise from 18% in 2021, and around a quarter (24%) used informal childcare, in line with 2021 (25%).

There were differences in the use of holiday childcare depending on the age of the child. Children aged 12 to 14 years (Accompanying Table 7.5) were less likely to receive childcare during school holidays than were younger children (27%, compared to 37% among children aged 4 years, 38% among children aged 5 to 7 years, and 39% among children aged 8 to 11 years). This trend is largely due to children aged 12 to 14 being less likely to receive formal childcare during school holidays than younger children (11%, compared to 24% among children aged 4 years, 23% among children aged 5 to 7 years, and 21% among children aged 8 to 11 years). Receipt of informal childcare during school holidays did not vary by children’s age.

Over half (54%) of parents of school-age children who worked during school holidays said it was easy or very easy to arrange childcare during the holiday periods, in line with 2021 (58%) (Accompanying Table 7.13). Around a quarter (26%) reported that it was difficult or very difficult to arrange childcare during the school holidays, in line with 2021 (24%). Those who experienced difficulties arranging holiday childcare most commonly said this was because they found it difficult to afford holiday childcare (49%), or because family or friends were not always available to help (41%) (Accompanying Table 7.14).

Among parents with school-age children who did not use holiday childcare, three in five (60%) said this was because they preferred to look after their children themselves, 21% said they rarely needed to be away from their children, and 20% said it was because they (or their partner) were at home during the school holidays (Accompanying Table 7.15). 

Reasons for using childcare

Children aged 0 to 4 years

For children aged 0 to 4 years who received childcare (formal or informal) during term-time, almost three in four (73%) parents did so for economic reasons (e.g. to enable them to work, to look for work, or to study), in line with 2021 (71%) (Accompanying Table 9.10). Almost three in five (58%) parents did so for child-related reasons (e.g. for the child’s educational or social development, or because the child likes attending), also in line with 2021 (61%). Reasons relating to parental time (e.g. so the parents could conduct domestic activities, socialise, or look after other children) were less common (18%, down from 20% in 2021).

By annual family income, almost nine in ten (86%) children aged 0 to 4 years in families earning £45,000 or more who received childcare did so for economic reasons, falling to 49% in families earning under £10,000. This pattern was reversed with respect to reasons relating to parental-time: 15% of children aged 0 to 4 years in families earning £45,000 or more received childcare for reasons relating to parental time, rising to 27% among those earning under £10,000. Among children aged 0 to 4 years, receipt of childcare for child-related reasons did not vary across the income distribution.

Parents considered a range of factors when choosing a formal childcare provider for their child aged 0 to 4 years. The most common factors were convenience (57%, a fall from 62% in 2021), the provider’s reputation (53%, a fall from 63% in 2021), and concerns relating to the kind of care given (52%, in line with 55% in 2021) (Accompanying Table 6.1).

Children aged 5 to 14 years

Children aged 5 to 14 years were most likely to receive childcare for child-related reasons (64%, unchanged since 2021), followed by economic reasons (56%, in line with 55% in 2021), with reasons relating to parental time again being the least common (14%, in line with 16% in 2021) (Accompanying Table 10.6).

Reflecting the trends by annual family income just described for children aged 0 to 4 years, children aged 5 to 14 in families earning £45,000 or more were most likely to receive childcare for economic reasons (62%, falling to 42% in families earning under £10,000), and were least likely to receive childcare for reasons relating to parental time (11%, rising to 24% in families earning under £10,000). Among children aged 5 to 14 years, receipt of childcare for child-related reasons did not vary across the income distribution.

Turning to the factors parents considered when choosing a formal childcare provider for their child aged 5 to 14 years, the most common reasons were convenience (51%, in line with 48% in 2021), the provider’s reputation (44%, in line with 43% in 2021), and concerns relating to the kind of care provided (35%, in line with 38% in 2021) (Accompanying Table 6.1).

There were some differences in the reasons parents used childcare depending on the age of the children. Parents of children aged 0 to 4 years were more likely to use childcare for economic reasons (73% compared to 56% of parents with children aged 5 to 14 years). Parents of children aged 0 to 4 were also more likely to say they used childcare for reasons relating to parental time (18% compared to 14% among families with children aged 5 to 14 years).  Parents of children aged 0 to 4 years were more likely to choose a provider for convenience (57% compared to 51%), the provider’s reputation (53% compared to 47%) and concerns about the kind of care given (52% compared to 42%) than parents with children aged 5 to 14 years.    

Reasons for not using childcare

Parents who had not used any childcare in the past year (neither formal nor informal) tended not to do so  out of choice, rather than due to constraints. Just over three in five (62%) parents who were not using childcare said this was because they would rather look after their child(ren) themselves (in line with 58% in 2021), and 17% said it was because their children are old enough to look after themselves (a fall from 25% in 2021). A further 21% said it was because they rarely need to be away from their children, in line with 2021 (26%) (Accompanying Table 5.3). One in ten(10%) said it was because they could not afford childcare, unchanged since 2021.

There were some differences by the age of the children in the family. Families with children aged 0 to 4 years only were more likely to say that they had not used childcare because they couldn’t find a childcare place as local providers were full (6%) than families with children aged 5 to 14 years only (1%). Families containing children aged 0 to 4 years only, were more likely to say that they hadn’t used childcare because they could not afford it (17%), than families containing children aged 5 to 14 years only (8%).

Changes to local childcare provision

Parents were asked what changes to local childcare provision, if any, would be most helpful for making it better suited to their needs.

Families containing children aged 0 to 4 years only were much more likely to want to see changes to childcare provision than parents in families containing children aged 5 to 14 years only (Accompanying Table 5.20).  Two fifths (40%) of parents in families with children aged 5 to 14 years only said that no changes were needed to make childcare better suited to their needs, compared to 25% among families with children aged 0 to 4 years only.   

Among families containing 0 to 4 year olds only, the most frequently mentioned change to local childcare provision to make it better suited to their needs was more affordable childcare (44%, in line with 40% in 2021). More affordable childcare was also the most frequently cited change among families with children aged 5 to 14 years only (27%, in line with 26% in 2021), but the percentage saying this was lower than among families with children aged 0 to 4 years. 

Families with children aged 0 to 4 years only also mentioned that they would like more information about what’s available 21% (a rise from 15% in 2021), compared to 16% of families with children aged 5 to 14 years only, (a rise from 13% in 2021). A higher percentage of families with 0 to 4 year olds only also mentioned more flexibility about when childcare is available 19% (in line with 17% in 2021) compared to families with 5 to 14 years olds only 10% (in line with 2021, 13%) and more childcare places in general 20%, (a rise from 17% in 2021) compared to 11% (in line with 2021) among families with children aged 5 to 14 years (Accompanying Table 5.20). 

There was no difference among families about availability of childcare during school holidays, 18% for families with children aged 0 to 4 years old (a rise from 15% in 2021) and 20% for families of 5 to 14 year olds only (in line with 21% in 2021). 

Families containing children aged 0 to 4 years only were most keen to see improvements to local childcare provision in the Summer holidays (47%, in line with 44% in 2021), followed by in the Easter holidays (30%, in line with 27% in 2021), in the Christmas holidays (30%, in line with 27% in 2021), and during half-term holidays (30%, unchanged since 2021) (Accompanying Table 5.19).

Families containing children aged 5 to 14 years only were most keen to see improvements to local childcare provision in the Summer holidays (70%, in line with 68% in 2021) and they were more likely to say this than families with children aged 0 to 4 years only (47%). 

Families with children aged 5 to 14 years only also said that would like to see improvements to local childcare provision in the Easter holidays (35%, in line with 38% in 2021), during half-term holidays (35%, in line with 40% in 2021), on weekdays during term time (30%, in line with 33% in 2021), and in the Christmas holidays (29%, in line with 32% in 2021). 

Receipt of the entitlement to government funded childcare or early education

This section describes the awareness and receipt of government funded childcare in early education and is based only on parents of children aged 0 to 4 years old. 

Policy background on childcare or early education in England

Entitlements 

All 3 and 4 year olds in England are entitled to a defined number of hours of free childcare or early education. Some 2 year olds are also eligible to access a defined number of hours of free childcare or early education - for example if their parent or guardian receives certain benefits, or they have a statement of special educational needs.

15 hours entitlement 

All 3 and 4 year olds, and eligible 2 year olds, are entitled to 570 hours of funded early education or childcare per year. This is usually taken as 15 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year.

30 hours entitlement 

Since September 2017, the funded childcare entitlement for 3 and 4 year olds increased to 30 hours a week for working parents that meet the eligibility criteria. Parents can usually get 30 hours of funded childcare if they (and their partner, if they have one) are in work (or getting parental leave, sick leave or annual leave), and are earning at least the National Minimum Wage or Living Wage for 16 hours a week. Parents can also receive 30 hours free childcare if they are claiming Universal Credit, tax credits, childcare vouchers or Tax-Free Childcare.  

For more information on the eligibility criteria see: https://www.gov.uk/help-with-childcare-costs/free-childcare-and-education-for2-to-4-year-olds (opens in a new tab)

Awareness and use of 15 hours of childcare or early education

Around nine in ten (91%) parents with a child aged 0 to 4 years were aware of the universal 15 hours offer available for 3 and 4 year olds (Accompanying Table 2.2), a fall from 93% in 2021. Awareness levels varied by annual family income: parents earning £45,000 or more per year were most likely to be aware of the scheme (95%), while those earning under £10,000 per year were least likely to be aware (85%).

Among parents with a child aged 2 years old, around four in five (79%) were aware that certain 2 year olds are eligible for some free hours of childcare each week, in line with 2021 (80%). There was no difference in awareness of the free hours for 2 year olds by annual family income.

Official statistics from the DfE’s Early Years Census and Schools Census show that in January 2022, 94% of 4 year olds, 92% of 3 year olds, and 72% of eligible 2 year olds benefitted from funded childcare or early education.

In 2022, over nine in ten (94%) parents using the universal 15 hours offer available for 3 and 4 year olds were satisfied with the way they could use the hours for their child (Accompanying Table 2.6), in line with 2021 (92%).  Over nine in ten (94%) parents using the 2 year old offer were satisfied with the way they were able to use the hours for their child, in line with 2021 (90%).

Awareness and understanding of the 30 hours

Among parents with a child aged 0 to 4 years, just over four in five (82%) were aware of the 30 hours (Accompanying Table 3.1), in line with 2021 (83%).

Awareness varied by family working status, with awareness lower in households ineligible for the scheme (71% among couple households with neither parent in work, rising to 88% among dual-working couple households). Awareness levels varied by annual family income (69% among those earning under £10,000, rising to 91% of those earning £45,000 or more per year). Awareness also varied by the age of the children in the household: among families with a child aged 0 to 2 years (but no child aged 3 to 4 years) 76% were aware, while among families with a child aged 3 to 4 years (but no child aged 0 to 2 years) 87% were aware (Accompanying Table 3.8).

Parents who were aware of the 30 hours were asked if they knew that providers can charge for extra services, such as meals, consumables, and special lessons or activities. Over four in five (84%) parents knew this to be the case, in line with 2021 (83%) (Accompanying Table 3.13). Among parents who were aware that providers can charge for certain extra services, most (73%) were aware that parents can choose not to receive, or pay, for these services, unchanged since 2021 (Accompanying Table 3.14).

Take-up of the 30 hours

Official statistics from the DfE’s Early Years Census and Schools Census show that in January 2022, 348,100 children aged 3 to 4 benefitted from the extended 30 hours entitlement, or approximately four in every five eligible children.

Over nine in ten (92%) parents using the 30 hours were satisfied with the way they were able to use the hours for their child (Accompanying Table 2.6), in line with 2021 (95%). 

Among working parents with a 3 or 4 year-old who had not applied for the 30 hours and were not intending to apply, the most common reason for not applying was that they did not think they were eligible (55%) (Accompanying Table 3.9). The remaining 44% of parents had not applied because of a reason unrelated to eligibility, including that their child had started school (13%), that they would rather look after their child themselves (7%), that they didn’t use formal childcare (7%), and that they did not need any more hours of childcare (6%).

Just over three in five (62%) non-working parents with a child aged 0 to 4 years, who were not receiving or registered for the 30 hours, felt it was likely they would try to find paid work to become eligible for the 30 hours (Accompanying Table 3.2), in line with 2021 (58%). Among parents whose partner was not in work, and who were not already receiving or registered for the 30 hours, just over two in five (42%) thought it likely that their partner would try and find paid work to become eligible for the 30 hours, in line with 2021 (49%).

Almost all (95%) children receiving government funded hours (whether under the 2 year old offer, the 15 hours offer, or the 30 hours offer) received their hours from a single childcare provider, with the remaining 5% receiving their hours from two or more providers (Accompanying Table 3.11). These proportions are in line with 2021 (96% and 4% respectively).

Among children receiving government funded hours from their main formal provider, just under nine in ten (87%) were attending their parents’ first choice of provider, in line with 2021 (90%) (Accompanying Table 2.10). For most (86%) children receiving government funded hours from their main formal provider, their parents had found it easy or very easy to get a place at the provider, in line with 2021 (89%) (Accompanying Table 2.12).

Perceived impacts of the 30 hours

Parents using the 30 hours were asked some questions to gauge the perceived impact of the hours on their work, and on their family finances. Just over two in five (43%) parents said that if the 30 hours were not available to them, they would still work the same number of hours (Accompanying Table 3.3), a fall from 52% in 2021. Around two in five (41%), however, thought that in the absence of the 30 hours they would work fewer hours, in line with 2021 (38%). Eight per cent  of parents thought they would be working more hours were the 30 hours not available to them, in line with 2021 (5%), and 9% thought they would not be working were the 30 hours not available to them, in line with 2021 (5%).

Lone parents were more likely than parents in couple families to say they would work fewer hours, were the 30 hours not available to them (55% and 38% respectively).

Almost three in four (73%) parents reported that the 30 hours had improved their family finances (unchanged since 2021), with 47% saying they had ‘slightly more money’ to spend than before, and 27% saying they had ‘much more money’ to spend than before (Accompanying Table 3.5).

Paying for childcare

This section first describes the weekly cost of childcare for families and per child, and perceptions around the cost of childcare. The second part of this section focusses on financial help with childcare costs, the impact of any government funded and employer provided childcare support, and awareness and use of tax-free childcare.   

Weekly cost of childcare

Among families

The overall median weekly amount paid by families to childcare providers (including both formal and informal providers) was £30.00 (Accompanying Table 4.6), in line with 2021 (£31.00). The amount paid varied depending on the number of hours of childcare used across all children in the household, and the types of providers used. Costs statistics are subject to a number of caveats, as described in the Technical Report.

Among families with children aged 0 to 4 years only, the overall median weekly amount paid by families to childcare providers was £90.00, in line with 2021 (£83.55). This amount was higher than the overall median weekly amount paid by families with children aged 5 to 14 years only, which was £21.00, in line with 2021 (£21.17). 

Among children

Turning to child-level (rather than family-level) payments, the overall median weekly amount paid to formal childcare providers was £20.98 (Accompanying Table 4.7), in line with 2021 (£20.00).

Child-level payments are influenced by the total number of hours children spend in formal childcare, as well as the types of providers used. As such, any changes in payments over survey years do not necessarily reflect changes in the fees and charges levied by childcare providers.

The overall median weekly amount paid to formal childcare providers was highest for children aged 0 to 4 years (£65.24), with the payments for children aged 5 to 11 years, and children aged 12 to 14 years, being considerably lower (£15.00 and £12.50 respectively). All payments were comparable with 2021. 

Perceptions around the cost of childcare

Perceptions of affordability

Around two in five (39%) parents overall rated the affordability of local childcare as very or fairly good (Accompanying Table 5.1), a fall from 42% in 2021. Just over a third (36%) of parents rated the affordability of local childcare as very or fairly poor, a rise from 30% in 2021.

By family type, parents in couple families were more likely than those in lone parent families to feel that local childcare is affordable (40%, compared to 34%).

Just under half (48%) of parents who paid for childcare said it was easy or very easy to meet their childcare costs (Accompanying Table 4.3), a fall from 56% in 2021. Over one in five (23%) found it difficult or very difficult to meet their childcare costs, a rise from 19% in 2021.

Difficulty in meeting childcare costs varied by annual family income. Over two in five (42%) families earning under £10,000 per year found it difficult or very difficult to meet their childcare costs, falling to 17% of families earning £45,000 or more.

Among families with children aged 0 to 4 years only, around two in five (41%) parents rated the affordability of local childcare as very or fairly good (Accompanying Table 5.2), in line with 2021 (45%). Just over two in five (42%) parents rated the affordability of local childcare as very or fairly poor, a rise from 32% in 2021. 

Among families with children aged 5 to 14 years only, just under two in five (37%) parents rated the affordability of local childcare as very or fairly good, in line with 2021 (39%). Around a third (34%) of parents rated the affordability of local childcare as very or fairly poor, a rise from 28% in 2021.  A lower percentage of families with children aged 5 to 14 years only than families with children aged 0 to 4 years only rated the affordability of local childcare positively, but they were also less likely to say that affordability was poor. This was because they were more likely than families with children aged 0 to 4 years only to say that they weren’t sure about the affordability (29% compared to 17% of families with children aged 0 to 4 years only). 

Perceptions around the ease of paying for childcare

Among families with children aged 0 to 4 years only, just under two in five (37%) parents who paid for childcare said it was easy or very easy to meet their childcare costs (Accompanying Table 4.3), in line with 2021 (43%). Around a third (32%) found it difficult or very difficult to meet their childcare costs, a rise from 24% in 2021. Among families with children aged 5 to 14 years only, a higher percentage than families with children 0 to 4 years only (just over half, 54%) who paid for childcare said it was easy or very easy to meet their childcare costs (Accompanying Table 4.3), which was a fall from 63% in 2021.  Consequently, a lower percentage of families with children aged 5 to 14 years compared to families with 0 to 4 year olds only found it difficult or very difficult to meet their childcare costs, 17%, in line with 15% in 2021. 

Financial help with childcare costs

Parents were asked whether they received any financial help towards childcare costs for any children in the household. This covered a variety of sources, including an employer (via childcare vouchers, direct payments to providers, or provision at the parent’s place of work), the entitlement to government funded childcare / early education via their Local Education Authority (LEA), and an ex-partner.

Among families who used formal childcare in the reference week, 13% reported that they received financial assistance from at least one external source (Accompanying Table 4.11), a fall from 16% in 2021. Parents were most likely to receive support from their employer (5%, a fall from 8% in 2021) and from their LEA (also 5%, unchanged since 2021). The LEA figures are a lower percentage than would be expected as participants may not be aware that the free hours are coming from the local authority, but think instead they are coming directly from HMRC, therefore are not reporting free hours here when they do receive them.

Families with children aged 0 to 4 years only were more likely to receive financial support than families with older children (aged 5 to 14 years only). Among families with children aged 0 to 4 years only, 16% received some financial help, in line with 2021 (18%). Parents in these families were most likely to receive help from their LEA (11%, in line with 10% in 2021), followed by their employer (3%, down from 6% in 2021). However, among families with older children aged 5 to 14 years only, 10% received some financial help, down from 13% in 2021. Parents in these families were also less likely to receive help from their LEA than families with children aged 0 to 4 years only (less than 1% of families with children aged 5 to 14 years only received help from their LEA), but they were more likely to receive help from their employer than families containing just 0 to 4 year olds (5%, down from 8% in 2021). 
 

Impact of government-funded and employer-provided support

Parents in work and receiving one or more forms of government-funded or employer-provided support were asked what impact, if any, this support had had on their (and on their partner’s) job. The forms of support were: Government funded hours of childcare under the 15 or 30 hours offers; Tax-Free Childcare; Working Tax Credit and/or Child Tax Credit; employer-provided childcare vouchers; direct payments to a childcare provider made by an employer; and a childcare provider located at the parent or partner’s place of work.

Parents were most likely to say that the support they received had enabled them to stay in work (31%, in line with 28% in 2021), maintain their working hours (18%, in line with 19% in 2021), or increase their working hours (16%, in line with 14% in 2021) (Accompanying Table 4.17). Three per cent of parents said the support had led them to decrease their working hours, in line with 2021 (5%).

There were some differences by the age of the children in the family about what impact the financial support had had. Families containing younger children (aged 0 to 4 years only) were more likely to say that the support they received enabled them to stay in work (37%, a rise from 30% in 2021 compared to 27% among families with children aged 5 to 14 years only, in line with 2021).  Families with 0 to 4 year olds were also more likely than families with older children to say that the support had led them to increase their working hours, 18% (unchanged since 2021), compared to 13% of families with children aged 5 to 14 years only (which was a rise from 8% since 2021).  Whilst families with children aged 5 to 14 years only were more likely than families with children aged 0 to 4 years only to say that the support had enabled them to decrease their working hours (4% compared to 2% of families with children aged 0 to 4 years, both of which were unchanged since 2021). 

Turning to the impact the support had on partners within all families, the support was most likely to have enabled them to stay in work (22%, up from 17% in 2021), maintain their working hours (15%, in line with 16% in 2021), or increase their working hours (10%, in line with 8% in 2021) (Accompanying Table 4.18).

Tax-Free Childcare

All families

Almost half (47%) of parents with a child aged under 12 were aware of the Tax-Free Childcare scheme, in line with 2021 (44%) (Accompanying Table 5.23).

By family work status, dual-working couple families were most likely to be aware of the scheme (56%), followed by working lone parent families (45%). Couple families with neither parent in work were least likely to be aware (25%).

Among working families (dual-working couple families and working lone parent families) with a child aged under 12, just under half (46%) were unaware of the scheme, 28% were aware but had not applied for the scheme, 21% had applied for the scheme and used it to pay a provider, and 4% had applied for the scheme but had not used it to pay a provider.

Among parents with a child aged under 12 who had not applied for the Tax-Free Childcare scheme, 23% said they would ‘definitely’ or ‘probably’ apply for it in the future, in line with 2021 (22%) (Accompanying Table 5.25). For those who did not intend to apply for Tax-Free Childcare in the future, the main reasons were because they did not use formal childcare (21%), because they (or their partner) were not working (13%), because they claimed Universal Credit (17%) or Tax Credits (8%), or because they thought they (or their partner’s) income was too high (14%) (Accompanying Table 5.26).

Among families with children aged 0 to 4 years only, almost three in five (58%) parents were aware of the Tax-Free Childcare scheme, a rise from 53% in 2021, and these families were more likely to be aware of the scheme than parents with children aged 5 to 14 years only (where 41% were aware, in line with 2021, 38%). Also, a higher percentages of families with children aged 0 to 4 years only, than families with children aged 5 to 14 years only, who had not applied to the scheme yet said that they intended to apply for Tax-Free Childcare (36%) compared to 19% among families with children aged 5 to 14 years only. 

Perceptions of childcare and early years provision

This section explores the perceptions of the quality, availability and flexibility of local childcare provision, as well as the availability of information about local childcare. 

Perceptions of quality

Among families with children aged 0 to 4 years only, just under three-quarters (73%) of parents rated the overall quality of local childcare provision as very or fairly good, unchanged since 2021. Six percent rated it as very or fairly poor, in line with 2021 (5%) (Accompanying Table 5.2). 

Among families with children aged 5 to 14 years only, around three in five (61%) parents rated the overall quality of local childcare provision as very or fairly good, in line with 2021 (63%). Just under one in ten (9%) rated it as very or fairly poor, in line with 2021 (8%).  A lower percentage of families with children aged 5 to 14 years, than parents with children aged 0 to 4 years only, rated the quality of local childcare provision as very or fairly good, despite a higher percentage of families with children aged 5 to 14 years saying they were not sure about the quality of childcare (30% compared to 21% among families with children aged 0 to 4 years only).

Perceptions of availability and flexibility

Around two in five parents overall (41%) felt the number of local childcare places was ‘about right’ (a fall from 46% in 2021), while 33% said there were not enough places (a rise from 30% in 2021) (Accompanying Table 5.1).

A quarter (25%) of parents reported problems with finding childcare flexible enough to meet their needs, a rise from 21% in 2021 (Accompanying Table 5.18).

Among families with a parent in work (couple families with one or both parents in work, and working lone-parent families), just under half (48%) felt that they were able to find term-time childcare that fitted in with their (and/or their partner’s) working hours, in line with 2021 (50%) (Accompanying Table 5.18).

Among families with children aged 0 to 4 years only, just under half (47%) of parents felt the number of local childcare places was ‘about right’ (in line with 50% in 2021), while around a third (34%) said there were not enough places (a rise from 28% in 2021) (Accompanying Table 5.2).  Among families with children aged 5 to 14 years only, just under two in five (38%) parents felt the number of local childcare places was ‘about right’ (a fall from 42% in 2021), while 32% said there were not enough places (in line with 29% in 2021). Many of the differences on perceptions of availability between the families with younger and older children were because parents of children aged 5 to 14 years only were more likely to say they were not sure about availability of local childcare provision (29% compared to 18% of families with children aged 0 to 4 years only).  

Around a quarter (26%) of parents with children aged 0 to 4 years only reported problems with finding childcare flexible enough to meet their needs, a rise from 21% in 2021 (Accompanying Table 5.13), whilst just under a quarter (23%) of parents with children aged 5 to 14 years only reported this, in line with 2021 (21%) (Accompanying Table 5.18).

Information about childcare

Just over two in five (42%) parents overall said the information available to them about childcare in their local area was ‘about right’ (a fall from 50% in 2021). Around a third (34%) thought there was ‘too little’ information (a rise from 29% in 2021), while 4% felt there was too much information (a rise from 1% in 2021) (Accompanying Table 5.1). A further 21% of parents were unsure (in line with 20% in 2021).

A lower percentage of parents in families with children aged 5 to 14 years only said that the information available to them about childcare in their local area was ‘about right’ (40%), compared to 45% among parents in families with children aged 0 to 4 years only, (both of which were a fall from 2021; from 55% in families with 0 to 4 years only and from 48% for families with 5 to 14s only).

However, the proportion of parents saying the amount of information available was ‘too little’ did not vary by the ages of children in the household. Just over a third of families with 0 to 4 year olds only (35%) thought there was ‘too little’ information which is comparable to 33% of families with children aged 5 to 14 years only. This was a rise for both age groups from 28% in 2021 (Accompanying Table 5.2).

Parents in families with children aged 5 to 14 years only were more likely to say they were unsure about the amount of information available (24% compared to 17% among parents in families with children aged 0 to 4 years only), which accounts for a lower percentage of parents with children in this age group saying that the amount of information was ‘about right’. 

Turning to where parents receive information about childcare, parents were most likely to receive information about childcare via word of mouth, for example from friends or relatives (45% having done so in the last year), followed by from school (35%), and from social media (23%) (Accompanying Table 5.4).

Parents in families with children aged 0 to 4 years only were most likely to receive information by word of mouth, for example from friends or relatives (57%, falling to 40% among parents in families with children aged 5 to 14 years only). Parents in families with children aged 0 to 4 years only were also the most likely to receive information from a childcare provider (13%, compared with 3% among parents in families with children aged 5 to 14 years only), while parents in families with children aged 5 to 14 years only were the most likely to receive information from school (42%, compared with 10% among parents in families with children aged 0 to 4 years only). 

Parents in families with children aged 0 to 4 years were most likely to have received information from some source over the past year. Over four in five (82%) of these parents reported receiving information about childcare from at least one source, falling to 68% among families with children aged 5 to 14 years only.

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children’s social and educational development

Parents with a child aged 4 to 14 years were asked to think of the overall disruption to schools and childcare settings caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to say to what extent they thought this had harmed their child’s social and educational development. Around half (51%) of parents felt that the disruption had harmed their child’s development a great deal or a fair amount (Accompanying Table 6.18). The harm was felt to be more acute for older children: 58% of parents of children aged 12 to 14 years felt their child’s development had been harmed, compared to 52% among parents of children aged 8 to 11 years, and 45% among parents of children aged 4 to 7 years.

The home learning environment

This section discusses the frequency of learning within the home environment among children aged 0 to 5 years. 

Frequency of home learning and play activities

The home learning activity most frequently carried out with children aged 0 to 5 years was looking at books or reading, with just over three in five (62%) parents reporting that someone at home does this activity at least once a day with their child (Accompanying Table 6.7), unchanged since 2021.

The next most frequently conducted home learning activities were learning songs, poems or nursery rhymes (51% of parents reported that someone at home does this at least once a day with their child, in line with 53% in 2021) (Accompanying Table 6.10), and learning numbers or to count (51% of parents reported that someone at home does this at least once a day with their child, in line with 53% in 2021) (Accompanying Table 6.9). 

Information about home learning and play activities

Parents were asked where they get information and ideas about learning and play activities they can do with their child. Parents were most likely to get information from friends or relatives (59%), social media sites (45%), internet sites (42%), and other parents (36%) (Accompanying Table 6.17).

Mothers, work and childcare

The following section focusses on mother’s work patterns and which factors influenced them to go out to work. 

Levels of work among mothers

Just under three quarters (73%) of mothers overall reported that they were in work (Accompanying Table 8.5), a rise from 71% in 2021. There was an increase in the proportion of mothers working full-time to 41% in 2022 from 37% in 2021, but the proportion of mothers working part time was in line between the survey years (32% in 2022 and 34% in 2021) (Accompanying Table 7.16). 

Around half (49%) of non-working mothers said that if they could arrange good quality childcare that was convenient, reliable and affordable, they would prefer to go out to work (Accompanying Table 8.12), in line with 2021 (45%).

Among families with children aged 0 to 4 years only, around seven in ten (71%) mothers reported that they were in work (Accompanying Table 7.16), a rise from 66% in 2021. There was an increase in the proportion of mothers working full-time to 38% in 2022 from 32% in 2021, but the proportion of mothers working part time was in line between the survey years (34% in 2022 and 33% in 2021). 

Among families with children aged 5 to 14 years only, almost four in five (77%) mothers reported that they were in work (Accompanying Table 7.16), in line with 2021 (75%). There was an increase in the proportion of mothers working full-time with children aged 5 to 14 years only to 46% in 2022 from 41% in 2021, but the proportion of mothers working part time was in line between the survey years (32% in 2022 and 33% in 2021) (Accompanying Table 7.16).  A higher proportion of mothers with children aged 5 to 14 years only reported that they were in work than mothers with children aged 0 to 4 years old and they were also more likely to be in full-time work than mothers with children aged 0 to 4 years only, but there was no difference in the percentages working part-time between the ages of the children in the family. 

Over half (54%) of non-working mothers in families with children aged 0 to 4 years only said that if they could arrange good quality childcare that was convenient, reliable and affordable, they would prefer to go out to work (Accompanying Table 8.12), in line with 2021 (50%).  However, a lower percentage of non-working mothers in families with children aged 5 to 14 years only, than non-working mothers in families with children aged 0 to 4 years only, said that if they could arrange good quality childcare that was convenient, reliable and affordable, they would prefer to go out to work, around two in five (43%), in line with 2021 (46%). 

Turning to look at longer-term trends in mother’s work patterns there has been an increase in the percentage of mothers working full-time since 2011 across all families (Accompanying Table 7.16).  In 2011, 25% of all mothers were working full-time, but by 2022 this had almost doubled to 41%.  The increase in full-time working was accompanied by a decrease in the percentages working part-time or not working at all. In 2010, 38% of mothers were working part-time and 37% of mothers were not working, by 2022 this had decreased to 32% working part-time and 27% not working. There was no difference in these trends by the age of the children in the family. 

Factors influencing going out to work

Among mothers who had entered the workforce in the past two years, the most common reasons for starting work were finding a job that enabled them to combine work with their child(ren) (19%), wanting financial independence (18%), wanting to get out of the house (17%), their child(ren) starting school (15%), and their financial situation (14%) (Accompanying Table 8.8).

Four per cent of mothers said they entered the workforce to become eligible for the 30 hours, and among mothers with a child aged 2 to 4 years, this proportion was 8% (in line with 5% in 2021).

Mothers who had transitioned from part-time to full-time work in the previous two years most commonly did so because a job opportunity or promotion arose (27%), because of their financial situation (14%), because their child(ren) started school (14%), and because they wanted financial independence (11%) (Accompanying Table 8.9). Eight per cent of parents said they made this change to become eligible for the 30 hours.

Working mothers were asked what childcare arrangements, if any, helped them to work. Over two in five (43%) said that having children at school helped them to work, in line with 44% in 2021; 38% mentioned having reliable childcare, a fall from 42% in 2021; 36% mentioned having relatives who could help with childcare, in line with 2021 (38%); and 23% mentioned childcare that fitted with their working hours, a fall from 27% in 2021 (Accompanying Table 8.3).

Parents in families with children aged 0 to 4 years only were the most likely to mention having reliable childcare (60%, falling to 29% among those in families with children aged 5 to 14 years only). Parents in families with children aged 0 to 4 years only were also the most likely to mention having relatives who could help with childcare (62%, falling to 34% among those in families with children aged 5 to 14 years only).

Eight per cent of working mothers mentioned that the 30 hours helped them to work, and among those with a child aged 3 to 4 years this proportion rose to 36% (in line with 37% in 2021). Four per cent of working mothers said the 15 hours helped them to work, and among those with a child aged 3 to 4 years this proportion rose to 15% (in line with 17% in 2021).

Among mothers working part-time, around half (51%) said that even if there were no barriers to doing so they would not increase their working hours or work full-time (Accompanying Table 8.1), unchanged from 2021. Among families with children aged 0 to 4 years only this proportion stood at 55%, a rise from 47% in 2021.  Among families with children aged 5 to 14 years only this proportion also stood at 51%, in line with 2021 (53%). 

Just under two in five (36%) mothers working part-time said that, in the absence of any barriers, they would continue to work part-time but would increase their working hours, in line with 2021 (33%). Around one in eight (12%) mothers working part-time said that, in the absence of any barriers, they would move into full-time work, a fall from 17% in 2021.

Mothers in lone parent households were more likely than those in couple households to express a desire to move from part-time to full-time work (19% compared to 10% respectively). 

By annual family income, those at the lower end of the income distribution were most likely to express a desire to move from part-time to full-time work (22% among those earning under £10,000, and also 22% among those earning between £10,000 and £20,000, then falling to 8% among those earning £45,000 or more). And in terms of the desire to increase working hours while continuing to work part-time, this was relatively flat across the lower and middle sections of the income distribution (ranging from 39% to 44% among those earning under £45,000) but was lower among those earning £45,000 or more (31%).

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