Working parents ‘face summer holiday childcare bill of over £800 per child’

Holiday childcare prices have increased by 3% across Britain since last summer, with working parents facing a typical bill of more than £800 to cover the costs per child for six weeks, according to a survey.

The average cost of one week of holiday childcare is £138 per child, which could total £828 over a six-week summer break, Coram Family and Childcare’s 15th annual holiday childcare survey found.

Holiday childcare costs were found to be highest in the South East, at an average of £162 per week per child, more than a third (37%) higher than the North West, where childcare costs are lowest, at £119 per week on average.

In addition to rising costs, parents may struggle to get their child a childcare place over the summer.

This could lead to headaches juggling work commitments and couples potentially having to take different weeks off from each other so there is someone at home to look after the children.

Only one in three (31%) local authorities in England reports having enough holiday childcare for all parents in their area who work full-time, the report found.

This gap is even bigger for parents of children with disabilities, with less than a fifth (17%) of local authorities able to provide enough holiday childcare to meet their needs.

Megan Jarvie, head of Coram Family and Childcare, said: “Working families are being left with few options this summer.

“The high price and low availability of childcare means that many struggle to stay in work, or can end up paying to work.

“Families need to see urgent action to fill the gaps in availability and financial support.”

The charity highlighted the case of a mother from Lewisham in London who has a seven-year-old daughter.

The mother said: “Holiday childcare is too expensive and there is not enough of it.

“This has had a real impact on our family life over the summer because I have had to split my holidays with my partner to make sure that one of us is available to take care of our child.

“As a result, we are not able to spend as much time together as a family as we would like.

“And even then, our annual leave never covers all the holidays and does not include the inset days.”

The holiday childcare survey is based on surveys sent to family information services at local authorities in April 2019 and freedom of information (FOI) requests.

Children and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “We know some parents struggle with the cost of childcare, which is why we are spending around £3.5 billion on our early education offers this year alone.

“Parents are able to use their free entitlements with a range of provider types, some offering childcare all year round.

“Working parents with children up to the age of 16 can also claim back up to 85% of eligible childcare costs through Universal Credit.

“Over the summer holidays we are also supporting around 50,000 disadvantaged children and their parents with a programme of free activities backed by £9.1 million, and just this weekend we announced an extra £2.5 million next year to help schools open up their facilities at weekends and over the holidays as part of the School Sport Action Plan.”

Here are the average costs of holiday childcare per child, per week, according to Coram Family and Childcare, and the percentage difference from 2018:

– England, £139.60, 3%
– Scotland, £123.22, 0%
– Wales, £129.77, 2%
– East of England, £136.05, minus 5%
– East Midlands, £142.66, 8%
– Inner London, £128.82, 5%
– Outer London, £145.17, minus 3%
– North East, £144, minus 6%
– North West, £118.63, minus 4%
– South East, £162.22, 10%
– South West, £153.82, 20%
– West Midlands, £130.66, 5%
– Yorkshire and the Humber, £130.34, 0%