The Daycare Trust has quite rightly highlighted the high cost of
summer holiday child care facing many families in the UK. Its
annual survey found that parents can expect to pay around £455
per child for a six-week play scheme place.
I would argue that the cost for many families is much higher.
Summer play schemes are in short supply and, according to the
National Child Minders Association, hourly rates for childminders
range from £2.58 to £7 per hour, with the average rate
being around £4 an hour.
Even using the NCMA’s lowest rate as a basis for calculation, a
parent with one child working full time and placing their child
with a childminder from 8am-6pm each day will incur a summer
holiday child care bill of £774. Heaven help anyone who has
more than one child needing looking after!
The government would no doubt argue that it is trying to help
families on low incomes with the costs through the child care
element of the Working Tax Credit.
Unfortunately, though, there is a big flaw here, which is that
families can only claim for child care which is offered by
registered and approved providers. Many working parents on low
incomes rely on informal child care and quid pro quo arrangements
and are therefore unable to claim.
We need universal, high-quality, affordable childcare for all
working parents – only then will the summer holiday become
something to look forward to instead of something to dread!