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Holiday childcare costs have risen by four per cent in Britain since last summer, bringing the average parents now pay for one week of holiday childcare to £133.
The Family and Childcare Trust’s 17th annual Holiday Childcare Survey finds that the summer holiday comes with an average price tag of £800 for six weeks of holiday childcare per child.
Prices vary across the country: in the East of England, a week of holiday childcare costs £169 on average – 34 per cent more expensive than the West Midlands at £126 per week.
It says Universal Credit helps low income families to pay for childcare, but is often paid too late to help them manage the higher holiday costs. It is paid in arrears, meaning that parents have to pay their holiday club bill before claiming back support, rather than getting the extra support when they actually need it.
The report says rising costs are only half the picture: many parents will struggle to find childcare places as just one in four local authorities in England reported having enough holiday childcare for all parents working full time, dropping to one in eight for children with disabilities. There have been small improvements to the availability of childcare, but large gaps still remain.
The Family and Childcare Trust says Government policy is not doing enough to help families with school age children find and pay for childcare. In September 2016, they introduced a new ‘right to request’ holiday and wraparound childcare for parents from their children’s school. However, the Trust says this policy is yet to make a significant difference for families: just four per cent of local authorities told the Trust that this had had a positive effect on whether there is enough holiday childcare.
Ellen Broomé, Chief Executive at the Family and Childcare Trust, said: “Now is the time to urgently address childcare policy for school age children. For too many families, the long summer holiday is a time of stress and expense as they try to patch together a solution despite the gaps in availability and financial support.
“Current Government policies, including the new ‘right to request’, are not working to help families to deal with school age childcare. This price rise is another blow for families already struggling to find and afford childcare over the long school holidays.”
Meanwhile, around 100 childcare providers will meet MPs today to lobby them on the lack of full funding for the 30 hours childcare policy for three and four year olds. The event is organised by the All Party-Parliamentary Group for Childcare and Early Education.