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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

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