Published today, Coram Family and Childcare’s 15th annual Holiday Childcare Survey, the country’s most comprehensive survey of holiday childcare costs, reveals that working parents will have to find £828 on average for six weeks of holiday childcare per child. This means families have to find an extra £484 to cover the summer holidays compared to term time childcare.
This can be a huge financial pressure for low income families who rely on Universal Credit to help with their childcare costs, as this support is paid in arrears meaning they have to find the money to cover these higher costs up front, pushing many into debt.
Parents also face a ‘postcode lottery’ with huge variation in the costs of holiday childcare across the country. Holiday childcare costs are highest in the South East, at an average of £162 per week per child, 37% higher than the North West, where childcare costs are lowest, at £119 per week. There are large differences even between neighbouring regions – for example holiday childcare costs are 21% higher in the North East (£144) compared to the North West (£119).
In addition to rising costs, the survey also highlights the substantial gaps in the availability of holiday childcare, as only one in three (31%) local authorities in England reports having enough holiday childcare for all parents in their area who work full time. 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.
Coram Family and Childcare is calling for urgent Government reform on school age childcare to address the acute shortages and improve existing support for families. The Government introduced a ‘right to request’ policy in 2016 which allows parents to request that their child’s school provides childcare or opens up their facilities for another provider to do so. However, today’s research reveals that just 4% of local authorities say this policy has had a positive effect on the availability of holiday childcare – a figure that remains unchanged since last summer.
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.”
Christine, a mum who has recently gone from full time to part time work, 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. In the past my child has attended a private holiday childcare programme which provided stimulating activities for the children such as visiting museums and baking but it was extremely expensive. This limits our family holidays as the money we would spend has all gone towards childcare.”