Headlines: July 20th, 2012

Two-thirds of local authorities in England are failing to ensure there is sufficient childcare available in their area this summer. The cost of daycare has increased substantially in some areas.

The Daycare Trust’s 2012 holiday childcare costs survey, sponsored by Computershare Voucher Services, found that only one in three councils are fulfilling their legal duty to ensure that sufficient daycare is available. The survey also showed that over half of councils had cut their daycare budget.

The survey revealed significant gaps in holiday childcare across Britain, especially for older children, disabled children, and children living in rural areas. This is despite the 2006 Childcare Act requiring local authorities to ensure sufficient childcare for working parents.

The average cost of one week of full time, 40-50 hours, holiday childcare in Britain is now £99.87, an increase of 3 per cent on last year. Families with two children now face an average bill of around £1200 for childcare for the duration of the school holidays.

There have been significant increases in cost in certain nations and regions. Since last year, the average cost of a week’s holiday childcare has increased by 19 per cent in Wales and by 18 per cent in Yorkshire and Humberside. The South East is the most expensive region in Britain for holiday childcare, with an average weekly price of £110.06. The most expensive holiday childcare provider identified in the survey was in London and charged £400 for one week of holiday childcare.

Anand Shukla, Chief Executive of Daycare Trust said: “This year’s survey illustrates the lottery parents face when it comes to not only finding, but paying for childcare during the long school holidays, with the price of holiday childcare varying by as much as £20 a week between neighbouring regions.

“Council cuts to holiday childcare budgets and Family Information Services are hitting families across Britain hard, with only one in three local authorities now providing the childcare working families need this summer, despite their legal duty to cater for the needs of all. As a result, more parents than ever will face a juggling act to ensure their children are looked after this summer.”