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Cost of summer childcare is “pushing families to the edge"

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The summer holidays should be a time when children and families can relax and look forward to having fun together, but for many families the pressure of finding affordable childcare over the holidays can be incredibly stressful.

Last year, our report ‘No let up for working mums’, highlighted the struggle working mums and families had finding summer holiday childcare. Mums made it clear that while last year’s pandemic threw up additional challenges, finding summer holiday childcare is always a struggle.

And now, new research from Coram Family and Childcare is once again shining a spotlight on the failings of the UK’s childcare system.

Coram’s research shows that the families will have to shell out £900 per school age child for six weeks of summer holiday childcare. That's around £500 more than the term time equivalent and a 5 per cent increase on last year.

Patchy provision

The research shows:

  • barely more than a quarter of English local authorities have sufficient summer holiday childcare places for parents working full time.
  • only 7 per cent of councils can provide places for disabled children
  • single-parent families, BME families and families with disabled children find it even harder to find childcare.

The expense and lack of provision means that many working parents will have to take unpaid leave or reduce their hours over the summer holidays. Working mums are often the ones having to make those difficult decisions.

In families where both parents work, it is often women who take unpaid leave, work part-time, or leave the workplace altogether to manage caring responsibilities. For single parent families, the majority of whom are women-led, there are even fewer options and many LGBT+ families do not always have family networks to rely on for childcare.

We need an affordable childcare system

This is why the TUC is calling on the government to give an urgent cash boost to the childcare sector, and in the long term deliver a proper plan for a universal, flexible, high quality, affordable childcare for everyone who needs it, when they need it.

With the summer holidays just around the corner, employers need to review their current flexible working policies, consulting with employees and trade unions to ensure that working parents who need flexibility receive adequate support with no loss of pay.

The summer holidays should be a time for families to relax and spend time together, not running themselves ragged trying to piece together a patchwork of care or finding themselves in financial difficulties.

If the government is serious about levelling up, serious about women’s equality, serious about children and their development, and serious about supporting working families, then it needs to start taking childcare seriously.

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