Families across Britain are bracing themselves for a difficult summer as a sharp rise in holiday childcare prices and patchy availability of places hits working parents, Coram Family and Childcare’s 17th annual Holiday Childcare Survey reveals today.
Today’s report finds that, amid the soaring costs of living, holiday childcare costs have jumped by 5% since 2021. The average place at a holiday club now costs £148 a week – more than double what parents pay for an after-school club during term time. Families will now find themselves almost £900 out of pocket for six weeks of holiday childcare for each school age child, nearly £500 more than they would pay for six weeks of term time childcare before and after school.
The survey also found considerable regional variation in prices across Britain, with parents in inner London paying an average of £161 per week compared to £135 in the West Midlands, an 18% price difference. There are also huge price differences within the same area, with some holiday childcare places in inner London costing 92% more than the average, while others cost 44% less.
Alongside the financial strain, parents are struggling to find the childcare they need, with only 27% of English local authorities having enough holiday childcare available for parents in their area who work full time, down 6% on last year. Parents of disabled children face the most acute challenge with only 7% of local authorities having enough holiday childcare for these families, plunging from 16% in 2021. Other notable gaps in England include holiday childcare for children whose parents work atypical hours and children living in rural areas, with only 10% and 15% of local authorities respectively reporting they have enough childcare availability for these groups.
Ellen Broomé, Managing Director of Coram Family and Childcare, said: “Families across Britain are reeling from record inflation and this steep rise in holiday childcare will push many further into financial distress. Many parents, particularly mothers, will have no choice but be locked out of work altogether or struggle to pay for basic necessities such as food or rent.
“Holiday childcare is key economic infrastructure. The lack of childcare places for working parents is a serious problem – not just for families but for the country’s economic output. Children have experienced such disruption throughout the pandemic, and holiday childcare offers them a safe and fun space to stay active and connect with their friends while also helping to tackle the summer learning loss.”
Coram Family and Childcare is calling on the UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments to:
- Reform Universal Credit so it does not lock parents out of work – by increasing the maximum amount of childcare costs paid under Universal Credit and guaranteeing support for upfront childcare costs.
- Increase support for Family Information Services to provide good quality holiday childcare information and broker access to local provision that meets families’ needs.
- Expand provision of the Holiday Activities and Food programme to improve access to affordable, high quality childcare for all children who need it.
- Support local authorities to ensure they have a comprehensive overview of the cost and availability of holiday childcare in their area to identify and plug gaps in provision.