CALLS are being made for Worcestershire County Council to offer a family crèche facility for hard-pressed workers.

A leading councillor says more members of staff would be tempted to return to work if the County Hall HQ was more family-friendly.

Councillor Richard Udall says more women would also feel able to come back quicker if the council offered radical solutions for new parents - saying they are hamstrung by "the highest childcare costs in Europe".

His request has led to the council's leadership offering to look at new ways to help mums and dads.

The Family and Childcare Trust says average full-time childcare costs for a family with a two-year-old and a five-year-old are estimated at £11,700 a year, up 27 per cent since 2009.

The average annual mortgage was just £7,207 last year.

Cllr Udall, speaking during a full council meeting, said: "The cost of living crisis is hurting our employees - we have the highest childcare costs in Europe and this is stopping our staff returning to work after child birth."

He called upon the council to "investigate measures to help", including a crèche.

Councillor John Campion, the cabinet member responsible for the workforce, said: "We absolutely want to support our workforce to return to work, both new mothers and new fathers too.

"Whilst we don't offer a direct crèche facility on the site, I am happy to look at it to see if we can offer one on a commercial basis.

"But while I am not ruling it out, I do think there are other ways we can support people to return to work after giving birth."

The Government is already spending £7 billion on various childcare subsidies including maternity pay, 15 hours free nursery provision for three and four year-olds and work place vouchers.

Lower income parents can get up to 70 per cent of their childcare paid for already, worth up to £300 a week for two children.

Back in March West Worcestershire MP Harriett Baldwin said the country is losing "billions" of lost tax revenues because of the amount of new parents dropping out of work.