Holiday childcare prices have risen by 3% in Britain since last summer, bringing the average parents now pay for one week of holiday childcare to £138 – more than double the price parents pay for after-school clubs during term time.
The 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.