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Parents fork out £70 on non-refundable nursery waiting lists

Parents fork out £70 on non-refundable nursery waiting lists
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Parents have admitted to paying up to £199 to help secure a place at nursery, while the average spend on non-refundable fees comes in at £71.

More than a third of nurseries charge a non-refundable fee for adding children to a waiting list, while a further third charge an upfront non-refundable registration fee instead.

According to the research from Direct Line Life Insurance, despite the sums paid out, there’s no guarantee of children gaining a place at the early years setting.

Half of families have two or more children, meaning they could be spending upward of £142 just to put children on a waiting list.

As part of its research, it polled nurseries in London, Belfast, Edinburgh and Cardiff to understand the childcare struggles for parents.

For parents in the capital, the highest proportion of nurseries (22%) charged for adding children to the waiting list. This was followed by Edinburgh (14%).

While 36% reported not charging a non-refundable waiting list fee, they did charge upfront non-refundable registration fees, meaning 70% of nurseries are asking for some cash upfront.

Further, this is on top of the refundable deposit which is often equivalent to a month of fees which is only returned once a child leaves the setting.

In some of the more expensive nursery locations, parents are having to fork out £2,125 just to be able to secure their child a spot.

However, for some parents, fees remain a mystery as Direct Line found 20% of nurseries surveyed didn’t display their fees upfront on their websites.

Here the information needed to be requested, either through online forms, through a physical visit or via the phone.

Hannah Donnison, product manager at Direct Line Life Insurance, said: “Childcare costs often take up a large part of a family’s monthly budget, so it’s important that parents are aware of all the lesser known and hidden costs that come with arranging childcare in the first place.

“It’s not surprising that some parents find it unaffordable to cover the upfront costs of nurseries before even securing a place, especially in circumstances where many might not have had income for a few months or it’s been reduced while on maternity or paternity leave.

“Individual nurseries are known to take different approaches, but a large  percentage  do charge additional fees so make sure to look for these when doing your research. If  you’re  eligible, there is support available for childcare through the Government’s tax free childcare scheme, as well as in some instances childcare vouchers.

“Currently, when your child reaches three you can claim for additional financial support and there is also some additional support for under twos depending on your circumstances.”

Related: Working parents of two-year-olds: Application open for 15 hours’ free childcare