For the first time, two areas of Britain – Wales and the East of England – have reported that they do not have enough holiday childcare across all age groups and needs, according to the annual holiday childcare survey by the Family and Childcare Trust.
The survey shows that 88 per cent of local authorities in England, 78 per cent in Scotland and 100 per cent in Wales report that they do not have enough holiday childcare to meet demand.
Under the Childcare Act 2006 all local authorities in England and Wales have a legal obligation to make sure there is sufficient childcare for working parents and those undertaking training. Despite this duty, 29 per cent of English local authorities and 17 per cent of those in Wales had insufficient data to see if their supply met parental demand. In Scotland, where the legislative framework is different, that figure is 54 per cent, representing 14 local authorities.
The survey says that also for the first time, despite dire shortages, only 19 per cent of local authorities across Britain indicated that parents had complained about a lack of holiday childcare in the last 12 months, even though at least five million children live in local authorities with insufficient holiday childcare.
Average prices went down across Britain by 1.9 per cent since 2015, with the price of one weeks’ holiday childcare now at £121.12 – bucking a trend of rising prices which, since 2010, have increased by 21.9 per cent.
The survey shows parents of children aged 12 or over, families who live in rural areas and those with disabled children face the biggest gaps in provision. Some 83 per cent of local authorities in England and all local authorities in Wales lacked sufficient holiday childcare for disabled children.
Julia Margo, chief executive at the Family and Childcare Trust said: “Once again British families face a summer holiday of high costs and limited choice when it comes to finding formal childcare.
“We would like to see real commitment to increasing availability to meet demand, with a particular focus on deprived areas. Families should have a right to a childcare place, in line with a right to a school place.
“The introduction of parents’ ‘right to request’ holiday childcare in their local schools [to be introduced from September] offers a real opportunity for improvement. Government needs to provide the right information and support to realise this opportunity.”
The Family and Childcare Trust’s Holiday Childcare survey also sets out a number of recommendations, including a call for central government to provide local authorities with identified grant funding to ensure they can meet demand, for local authorities to produce online information listing holiday clubs and activities and for parents to be given a legal entitlement to childcare from the end of parental leave throughout childhood, bringing it in line with the right to a school place.
*Workingmums.co.uk’s survey on summer childcare shows parents are resorting to a mix of methods for covering the summer.