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Parents face holiday childcare bill of £800 per child

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Holiday childcare costs have risen by 3 per cent since last summer, leaving working parents having to shell out £828 on average for six weeks of childcare per child, new research shows.

One week of holiday childcare now costs £138 on average, more than double the price parents pay for after-school clubs during term time, according to Coram Family and Childcare’s annual holiday childcare survey,

It means families have to find an extra £484 to cover the summer holidays compared to term time childcare.

Parents also face a ‘postcode lottery’ with huge variation in the costs of holiday childcare across the country.

Holiday childcare costs are highest in the South East, at an average of £162 per week per child, 37 per cent higher than the North West, where childcare costs are lowest, at £119 per week.

In addition to rising costs, the survey found “substantial gaps” in the availability of holiday childcare, with only one in three (31 per cent) local authorities in England having enough holiday childcare for all parents in their area who work full time.

This gap is even bigger for parents of children with disabilities, with less than a fifth (17 per cent) of local authorities able to provide enough holiday childcare to meet their needs.

Megan Jarvie, head of Coram Family and Childcare, said: “Working families are being left with few options this summer. The high price and low availability of childcare means that many struggle to stay in work, or can end up paying to work. Families need to see urgent action to fill the gaps in availability and financial support.”

Christine, a mum from Lewisham who has recently gone from full time to part time work, said: “Holiday childcare is too expensive and there is not enough of it. This has had a real impact on our family life over the summer because I have had to split my holidays with my partner to make sure that one of us is available to take care of our child.

“As a result, we are not able to spend as much time together as a family as we would like. And even then, our annual leave never covers all the holidays and does not include the inset days.”

Last week, the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG) warned parents to thoroughly research the way they get help with childcare costs this summer.

While the government’s Tax-Free Childcare Scheme give parents up to £2,000 a year, claiming it can impact existing support and benefits.

How Tax-Free Childcare works

For every £8 families pay into their Tax-Free Childcare account, the government will make a top-up payment of £2, up to £2,000 per year per child.

The money can be put towards a range of childcare options, including school and summer camps across the country, and before and after school care during term time.

The scheme is open to working parents, including the self-employed, who earn between the minimum wage and £100,000 per year and have children aged up to 11-years-old.

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