The cost of childcare for parents in every part of the Black Country has been revealed - and it's quite a lottery.

New government figures published for the first time show that in Dudley the average hourly fee for three and four year old children was £4.25 in 2018.

That figure was well below the average cost of other places in the region - most notably Coventry and Birmingham, which came in at £5.00/

But the cost is 25p more an hour than the £4.00 charged in Walsall, Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin and Wolverhampton on average.

Families in Birmingham also faced the second highest average costs in the region - again following Coventry at £5.00 - for childcare for two year olds, at 4.75 per hour.

That compared to £4.00 an hour in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin and Wolverhampton.

The cost in Sandwell, meanwhile, was £4.25 and £4.50 for three-and-four year-olds, and two year-olds, respectively.

The cost for Black Country parents:

You could be eligible for tax-free childcare through HMRC

 

Local authority // Mean hourly fee for three and four year old // Mean hourly fee for two year old

Dudley // £4.50 // £4.25

Sandwell // £4.25 // £4.50

Walsall // £4.00 // £5.00

Wolverhampton // £4.00 // £4.00

 

Parents of younger children are entitled a set number of hours of free childcare, depending on their circumstances.

All three to four-year-olds in England can get 570 free hours per year - usually taken as 15 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year.

Parents can also get 30 hours of free childcare if both are in work, and each earning at least the National Minimum Wage or Living Wage for 16 hours a week.

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Meanwhile, since the end of 2013, two-year-olds in England have also been eligible for 15 hours of early education per week provided their parents receive certain benefits, such as Jobseeker’s Allowance, or if the child has a disability.

However, there are seven different ways families in England can get support - all with different eligibility criteria - meaning some families may be missing out due to the complexity of the system.

In their recent Annual Childcare Survey, Coram Family and Childcare also revealed that in 94 per cent of local authorities across the country, a full-time nursery place for a child under two is now more expensive than the maximum costs supported under Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit.

Even if they can afford it, many parents will struggle to find the childcare they need.

The survey also found that only just over half of local areas in England have enough childcare for parents working full time.