Britons face a trying summer as childcare availability plummets

British families are set to face a challenging summer attempting to find childcare as the number of available places across the country drops significantly.

The annual Holiday Childcare Survey, the 14th in the series, published today by the Family and Childcare Trust, and sponsored by Computershare and Community Playthings, highlights a lack of childcare sheds and light on the struggle parents will have in juggling work, school holidays and summer childcare.

The new report shows that the vast majority of local authorities – 87% of local authorities in England and 95% in Wales – admit that they simply do not have enough holiday childcare to meet demand. In Scotland, just three local authorities had enough holiday childcare for working parents, and over a third did not even have relevant data to analyse the situation in their areas.

The gaps in holiday childcare provision are increasing significantly, with the number of English local authorities lacking sufficient childcare for working parents. There are now 28 local authorities in England, 13 in Wales and four in Scotland where there are severe shortages of childcare – affecting an estimated 1.5 million children.

Despite recent Government efforts to make childcare more affordable, the average price of one week’s full-time holiday childcare is now £123.49, up 7.8% in the last 12 months. Looking across the last five years, prices of holiday clubs have risen by nearly 25%.

The report sets out a number of measures that could ease the burden on parents across Britain, including funding support for providers to help with their start-up costs and business sustainability, and making sure local authorities produce accurate and timely online information listing holiday clubs and activities for parents.

Stephen Dunmore, chief executive at the Family and Childcare Trust said:

“These are worrying findings at a time when the Government is pushing through its ambitious and welcome plans to make childcare more affordable for parents. It is time for action on the Cinderella service that is holiday childcare, otherwise many parents will struggle to hold down a job or find their summer plans in tatters.

“Local authorities must be supported in their market management to stop the decline in childcare places so that all parents have the access to childcare that they so desperately need.

“We are also calling on the Government to make sure there are no further delays in the roll out of Tax Free Childcare so that this vital support is available to parents as soon as possible.”

Julian Foster, Managing Director at Computershare added:

"The declining availability of childcare over the summer will provide additional difficulties for parents at a time of year when the pressure on maintaining a healthy balance between their working and family lives can be most difficult.

“It's vital that we provide sufficient support for working parents to create happier, healthier households, to boost the UK economy and ensure that every child gets the best start in life, and parents should use childcare vouchers in order to reduce the burden of the inflated cost over summer in particular.”

To read the full report, click here.

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