Parents 'struggle to find holiday childcare'

girl walking by stream As the holidays approach, children need to be occupied

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Many parents in Britain are struggling to find childcare for their children over the summer holidays, a survey by the Daycare Trust suggests.

The trust found 60 of the 150 Family Information Services (FIS) in England had parents reporting a lack of care.

In Wales, 10 of the 21 FIS said parents faced a shortage of holiday childcare.

The situation in Scotland was slightly better, with 6 of the 31 Childcare Information Services (CIS) saying parents were struggling to find cover.

Regions in England reporting particularly high levels of holiday childcare shortages included the South East, the West Midlands and the North East.

Average weekly cost by region

  • South East £105.74
  • South West £104.43
  • East of England £101.16
  • Yorkshire and Humber £101.15
  • Scotland £100.38
  • North West £95.30
  • Greater London £88
  • North East £85.58
  • East Midlands £81.95
  • Wales £80.25
  • West Midlands £79.02

The Daycare Trust also found the average cost of a week's childcare for one child was £93.

But parents faced differing bills for holiday childcare, depending on where they lived.

In the West Midlands, the typical weekly cost was £79.02, whereas in the South East it was £105.74.

In Wales the average cost was £80.25 and in Scotland it was £100.38.

In response to its questionnaire to 202 information services, the Daycare Trust received responses from 96 FIS in England, 15 in Wales and 21 in Scotland.

High costs

Chief Executive of Daycare Trust Alison Garnham said there was a "gaping hole" in holiday childcare provision which would get worse with the impact of local authority spending cuts.

"Where provision is available, parents are being expected to shell out the equivalent cost of a family holiday abroad over the course of the summer - simply for the privilege of having their children looked after so that they can attend work.

"If the government are serious about getting parents into employment then they must take a comprehensive approach to investing in more holiday and wraparound childcare, whilst ensuring tax credits really do 'make work pay', so that affordable, accessible, quality childcare is available in every community, for every child.

"The recent changes to tax credits mean that many working parents will in future receive less help with childcare costs - this is a seriously bad move and means more help is needed to make childcare more affordable."

Below is a selection of your comments

I'd love to be only paying an average fee of £101 in this part of the world, I pay £35 per day for my two-year-old and even if she doesn't attend I still have to pay this as a retainer - child care is a gold mine for the private sector as they know more parents are going to have to both work to meet the increase now and further living costs.

Simeon, Selby, North Yorkshire

I have been fortunate in that I have childcare via a holiday scheme run by the local SureStart centre. However this only actually runs for the first four weeks so I am having to use a centre further away for the last two weeks. Also they aren't full-time either, the centre I'm using opens at 08:30 and closes at 16:30. Try telling my boss in a busy call centre that I need to work for an hour less each day during school holidays as I need to drop my daughter off and collect her. Plus, none of them take children once they're out of primary school. Not all 11-year-olds are sensible enough to be left at home alone all day.

Kelly Bagwell, Manchester

I don't know what some parents complain about with child care costs. The parents need to look at the overall picture and see how lucky they are. A charge of £100 per week through the summer holidays is not bad considering the time involved. I have three kids aged eight, six and three and they all have had to go to nursery and after-school care because I am not in a fortunate position like some parents to get my family to look after them. I worked it out that by the time my youngest starts school in two years time I will have paid over £112,000 in childcare costs. Don't moan about paying £100 per week.

Nigel Craig, Glasgow

I'm a grandparent now but when my children were small I worked fulltime in a hospital and engaged an au pair for the summer holidays. I carefully vetted the applications and advertised in a top-end magazine. I didn't pay her much and she lived with the family. One girl enjoyed it so much she came three years running. Her duties were not onerous, merely to keep an eye on the children. We were lucky in that we had a large garden and lived near an enormous park in which there was a paddling pool. Maybe present day childcare laws wouldn't allow it, but it seems to me to be a good way of expanding the children's horizons and giving someone a chance to live with a family in a foreign country

Angela Arney, Hampshire

I have three-year-old twins who attend nursery during the school terms. The nursery operates a holiday club throughout the whole of the summer holidays but they charge £90 per day for the twins. This is simply unaffordable for a period of seven weeks. Whilst there may be cheaper alternatives this would mean the twins attending two different sets of childcare facilities during the course of a year which I do not consider to be in their best interests.

Linda Laird, Rugby, Warwickshire

Those privileged enough to work caring for children over the holiday periods should be paid a living wage and not be expected to subsidise other non-childcare workers holidays. Having a family leads to accepting responsibilities and the attendant expenses and, yes, sometimes making sacrifices.

Ann Bruford, Devon

I agree that as a single parent it's very hard to afford childcare throughout the duration of the seven weeks summer holidays. The cost of the childcare for one week here is about £105 per week per child. How can a single parent afford seven weeks of childcare? Either we as working parents or single parents should be entitled to more paid annual leave throughout the year to help look after our children or should get 75% more help from the government to help us afford child care. On average the schools have about 13 weeks holidays throughout the year and we as parents are only entitled to five weeks paid leave throughout the year. This however does not match and it makes life very difficult for single parents.

Kim Kaur, Milton Keynes

Childcare is the reason I am not in paid employment. It seems bonkers that I go out to work in a low paid part time job, to pay someone else to look after my kids. So I do it, for nothing - and get told I am not 'working'.

Sandra, Gloucester

I purposely choose to work part time because child care is such an expense. I would love to work full time but how can I juggle this? Parents who have help from grandparents are extremely lucky, I am fortunate to have a creche at the community centre hence my ability to work at all.

Emma Alston, Shropshire

Yet again parents are penalised for having children. There are very few families that can survive on one parent's salary, but unfortunately when the second parent goes back to work their salary usually just about covers the cost of child care. Tax breaks, additional support or flexible employers are required. I'm sure there will be many responses from people without children asking why parents should get additional help at their expense - I hope these same people will not expect to be supported by future generations.

Mark, London

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