School holiday care costs £120 per child each week amid places shortage


The cost of childcare during the school holidays is still unaffordable for many families and there are not enough places to meet demand, a report has shown.

Parents shell out £120 a week on average for each youngster, according to the latest annual Family and Childcare Trust holiday childcare survey.

The finding suggested that, despite a slight drop in prices compared to last year, costs have risen by more than a fifth since 2010.

Children around the country have started to break up for the summer holiday, leaving working mums and dads needing to find childcare.

Some parents are able to access flexible working, while others split annual leave to take turns in caring for youngsters, or rely on family and friends. Around a fifth of families use formal childcare such as childminders or holiday clubs.

The average price of one week of full-time holiday childcare, for 50 hours, is £121.12. This includes care offered by the public sector, such as schools, and private organisations.

This is down 1.9% from £123.49 in 2015, but up 21.9% since 2010. 

In England alone, the current cost is £122.34, with the South East bearing the heaviest average weekly costs at £141.87. The North West has the lowest at £111.42.

In Scotland, the average weekly cost of holiday childcare stands at £121.05 and in Wales it is £110.15.

The report, based on a survey of Family Information Services in England, Wales and Scotland, also suggested there is a shortage of childcare places when school is not in session.

Of those councils in England that responded to the poll, 88% said they do not have enough holiday childcare to meet demand, compared to 78% in Scotland and 100% in Wales.

The survey concluded that "parents face both high prices and shortages of childcare" over the summer break, with the situation worse in certain areas and for different groups of families.

It said: "The Government has promised to provide extra help with childcare costs for school-aged children through universal credit and the new tax-free childcare scheme.

"However, both these programmes have faced delays, and the survey findings indicate that families still face costs that many find unaffordable."

The study made a series of recommendations, including urging the Government to ensure there are no further delays to universal credit and tax-free childcare. It also called on local councils to list holiday clubs and activities online.

Trust chief executive Julia Margo said: "Once again British families face a summer holiday of high costs and limited choice when it comes to finding formal childcare.

"We would like to see real commitment to increasing availability to meet demand, with a particular focus on deprived areas. Families should have a right to a childcare place, in line with a right to a school place.

"The introduction of parents' 'right to request' holiday childcare in their local schools offers a real opportunity for improvement. Government needs to provide the right information and support to realise this opportunity."

A Government spokesman said: "We are doing more than ever before to support the families that need it most with the cost and availability of childcare.

"We are investing an extra £1 billion per year by 2020 to help working families, doubling the free offer to 30 hours a week for parents of three- and four-year-olds and introducing a 'right to request' for parents to ask their child's school to provide wraparound childcare to fit in with parents' working hours.

"We're pleased to see that the cost of holiday childcare is falling, but we know that there is more to do.

"Councils must provide childcare for children up to age 14 for parents who are working, studying or training and we are helping schools to offer after-school and holiday clubs."