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Woeful lack of holiday childcare revealed by new Daycare Trust research

14 July 2010
  • Just  20% of local authorities confident they can meet parental need.
  • Average cost of childcare in Britain this summer stands at £558  per child.
  • Postcode lottery sees prices double from one region to another.

Research published today by the national childcare charity Daycare Trust, ahead of the school holidays, has uncovered a postcode lottery and patchwork of childcare availability. The findings of this year's Holiday Childcare Costs survey show a huge gap in childcare provision, with only 20% of local authority Family Information Services (FIS) able to state that they have sufficient holiday childcare in place to meet parental need - down from one third last year; whilst 63% reported that parents had complained of a lack of childcare in their area - rising to 88% in the south east region.

And this picture looks set to get worse, with the amount of holiday childcare provision falling in 40% of local authorities - a trend rapidly emerging as a result of council spending cuts, and the impact of the recession.

Whilst the average cost of a week's childcare across Britain has risen by just 3% this year to £93, this figure masks a postcode lottery across the UK.  Costs varied from £119.32 for private or voluntary sector childcare in the East of England region, compared with just £58.89 for local authority-provided childcare in Wales.

The survey also showed that in many instances local authority provision remained cheaper than PVI-provided childcare, where costs rose by over 16% in both the north west and south east this year, although Scotland bucked this trend with a 10% rise in local authority provision and no rise in costs in the PVI sector.


Alison Garnham, Chief Executive of Daycare Trust said:

"We are hugely concerned by the gaping hole in the provision of holiday childcare across the country. The situation continues to get worse with the impact of local authority spending cuts which we see are already attacking holiday childcare provision.

Where provision is available, parents are being expected to shell out the equivalent  cost of a family holiday abroad over the course of the summer - simply for the privilege of having their children looked after so that they can attend work.

If the government are serious about getting parents into employment  then they must take a comprehensive approach to investing in more holiday and wraparound childcare, whilst ensuring tax credits really do ‘make work pay' , so that affordable, accessible, quality childcare is available in every community, for every child.

The recent changes to tax credits mean that many working parents will in future receive less help with childcare costs -  this is a seriously bad move and means more help is needed to make childcare more affordable."

Policy recommendations:

  • Measures need to be put in place to increase availability of holiday childcare provision, given the trend towards decreasing provision and the emphasis on working parents within the government's welfare reform programme. Holiday playschemes should be protected from local authority cuts as they provide an essential service to parents.
  • Central government, building on the current summer holiday childcare pilots, should provide investment to ensure holiday childcare is more flexible and affordable for families.
  • Government should increase the proportion of childcare costs paid through tax credits to 100 per cent; increase the maximum levels that can be claimed by region to accommodate higher childcare costs in some areas, and design a simplified system whereby the childcare element is separated from working tax credit and to give all families some help towards their childcare costs.
  • Local authorities should ensure Families Information Services are funded appropriately, so that they are able to provide a full service to parents, and provide a brokerage role for holiday childcare where required.





  1. Daycare Trust asked all Family Information Services (FIS) in England and Wales and all Childcare Information Services (ChIS) in Scotland to complete a short questionnaire concerning the availability and typical cost of holiday childcare in their area. The survey also collated data on parental demand for wraparound childcare and whether or not parents had reported a lack of holiday childcare.
  2. For the second year running, a distinction was made between local authority-run provision and PVI (private, voluntary and independent) provision, with an overall mean cost also being calculated for each region. By making these distinctions we have been able to further explore the patchwork of holiday childcare costs across Britain.
  3. 132 responses were received in total, an overall response rate of 66 per cent. All regions enjoyed a response rate of 63 per cent or greater, with the exception of the East of England.


Daycare Trust is the national childcare charity, campaigning for quality affordable accessible childcare for all and raising the voices of children, parents and carers.  We advise parents and carers, providers, employers, trade unions and policymakers on childcare issues.  We recognise that everyone is unique and we value difference in our communities.  We listen to all views and are committed to act without prejudice. 

Daycare Trust runs an Information Line  on 0845 872 6251, open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 10.00am-1.00pm and 2.00pm-5.00pm, Wed 2.00pm-5.00pm (only). Parents can also visit and for information.

Daycare Trust is a member of the Campaign to End Child Poverty,

For further information, contact press office at Daycare Trust on 020 7940 7525 (out of hours