Social Justice

This is how much summer holiday childcare will set families back in the cost of living crisis

Less than a quarter of local authorities have enough childcare options for kids whose parents are working, according to the new survey from Coram Family and Childcare

summer holiday childcare

Childcare over the school holidays is often unaffordable for parents. Image: Unsplash

The average family is now spending £943 for six weeks of summer holiday childcare, according to annual research from Coram Family and Childcare.

This is more than double what families pay during term time, working out at £538 more over the six-week period, and a 3% increase on 2022 prices. The charity warns this makes summer holidays especially challenging for families who are already struggling in the cost of living crisis

Megan Jarvie, the head of Coram Family and Childcare, said: “The high cost of holiday childcare is going to put a further strain on families’ already stretched budgets. Even if families are able to afford these costs, many will struggle to find a place as we have found shortages right across the country.”

Less than a quarter (24%) of local authorities in England said they have enough childcare options for children whose parents are working full time. Only 5% have enough summer holiday childcare for disabled children.

England has seen the overall availability of childcare fall for all children, but the most prominent drop is for eight to 11-year-olds. Fewer than one in four (23%) councils have enough space for children of this age group, a 7% drop since last year. 

Scotland has also seen significant falls in sufficient childcare, with no local authorities having space for disabled children. The number of childcare spots in rural areas is down by 14%, and for children with parents working full time there has been a drop of 12%. 

By contrast, Wales has seen an increase in the proportion of local authorities with sufficient childcare – except for parents working unusual hours and for children in rural areas where no councils reported having enough summer holiday childcare. It is similarly low for disabled children at 5%. 

There are significant differences in cost and availability of holiday childcare depending on where families live. Parents in inner London pay up to 25% more for places than those in the East of England (£177 per week compared to £142).

There are also huge differences within areas themselves. In the East Midlands, some holiday childcare places are more than double the national average while others pay 58% less.



The government introduced its Holiday Activities and Food Programme in England to give free childcare and a nutritional meal to children eligible for free school meals. But only 34% of local authorities agree or strongly agree that the programme helps to provide sufficient summer holiday childcare to working parents.

Coram Family and Childcare is calling for the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments to expand the provision of summer holiday activity and food programmes and to improve the accessibility of summer holiday childcare for children with special educational needs and disabilities. 

In the Spring Budget, the chancellor Jeremy Hunt committed £289 million to extend childcare but this only focuses on term-time childcare. Coram Family and Childcare urges the government to increase this funding so families are given more support during the school holidays as well as term time. 

“Starting school doesn’t mean that childcare needs to end,” Jarvie said. “Instead, many find that it becomes more challenging to find options that are right for their family, particularly during the long school holidays. New government funding to help improve childcare options during term time is welcome – but families need childcare right through the year.” 

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The Big Issue is helping families through the costly school holidays with our Summer Survival Guide. Do you have tips to share? We want to hear from you. Get in touch and tell us more.

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