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Holiday childcare places in short supply

Over the last five years childcare prices have gone up by almost 25 per cent according to a recent study by the Family and Childcare Trust.

Woman and child

When the Family and Childcare Trust carried out research for our 14th annual Holiday Childcare Survey, we expected higher than inflation price rises as this has been the trend for some years. The 7.8 per cent rise year on year was in line with our expectations, and it was no surprise to find that over the last five years, prices have gone up by almost 25 per cent.

With the average price of one week’s full-time holiday childcare now at £123.49, many working parents who can’t access an employer childcare voucher scheme will be disappointed to know that the Government’s tax free childcare scheme, which was due to begin this autumn, has been delayed and is now expected to launch from early 2017. When it is introduced, parents will be able to use this vital financial support to help pay for Ofsted registered holiday childcare places, if they can find a suitable placement.

But the really big surprise was the acute shortage of holiday childcare places, a situation that is getting worse despite the recent and welcome Government focus on childcare.  In 2014, 73 per cent of English local authorities lacked sufficient childcare for working parents; in 2015 this rose to 87 per cent, and there are now 28 English, 13 Welsh and four Scottish local authorities where there are severe shortages.  Some 1.5 million children live in these areas where holiday childcare is in short supply.  All this in spite of legislation under the Childcare Act 2006 which obliges local authorities to make sure there is enough childcare for working parents and those on training courses.

Luckily for some parents, family and friends can help with caring responsibilities over the summer holiday, or employers may offer opportunities to work flexibly. But those parents who don’t have informal networks or an accommodating boss are often forced to take unpaid leave, take days off sick or even give up a job because they could not find holiday childcare. This has an impact on workplaces and the economy, and it is why out-of-school childcare requires special attention.

We need the Government to make sure there are no further delays to the roll out of Universal Credit and Tax Free Childcare, because this extra financial support will be vital to parents as costs continue to rise.

We also want to see more support for local authorities to help them fill the gaps in holiday childcare, and more work from local authorities to bring together other agencies such as schools, the police, leisure, arts and sports organisations to make sure there are enough holiday activities for school-age children.

Read the information guides on childcare on the Family and Childcare Trust website

Coronavirus Information

My child's school is closing due to the coronavirus outbreak. What can I do?

The government has announced that schools will be closing for the majority of students from 20 March 2020.

Children in the following groups will still be able to go to school if their parents choose to send them:

  • The children of key workers
  • Children receiving support from social services
  • Children with disabilities
  • Children with Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs​)
  • Young carers

If you need to take time off work to care for your children, you should check your employment rights on the ACAS website.
 

What if I am well but my employer tells me not to work because of the coronavirus outbreak?

This will depend on your contract and is an employment law issue. You may be able to get advice from ACAS on this. You will not be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).

What if I have been in contact with someone with coronavirus and don’t want to go to work and risk infecting my colleagues and customers?

You will only be able to get special help under the coronavirus rules if you are self-isolating in accordance with NHS advice. You can find the current NHS coronavirus advice on the NHS website

What if I am not getting any customers in my self-employed business because of the coronavirus?

You may be able to claim Universal Credit, but you will not be entitled to any special support because of the coronavirus outbreak. You may have the minimum income floor applied to your claim, or you may be required to look for full time-employment.

I’m on a zero-hours contract, will I get paid if I’m told to self isolate?

If you are self-isolating in accordance with NHS guidance and you usually earn at least £120 per week, you should get Statutory Sick Pay even if you are on a zero hours contract.

What if I am homeless with no income so can’t self-isolate and need funds for accommodation?

The government has not published any guidance for what you should do if you are homeless and develop coronavirus symptoms. It would be best to contact your local authority for advice. You should do so by telephone if at all possible.