Families in Lancashire can expect to spend £800 over the school summer holidays on childcare whilst working to pay the bills.
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A survey by The Family and Childcare Trust finds that the summer holiday comes with an average price tag of £800 for six weeks of holiday childcare per child, averaging at around £133 a week.
The trust warned that many parents could struggle to find childcare places as just one in four local authorities in England reported having enough holiday childcare for all parents working full time, dropping to one in eight for children with disabilities.
A spokesman said there have been some improvements to the availability of childcare.
In September 2016, the government introduced a new ‘right to request’ holiday and wraparound childcare for parents from their children’s school.
Ellen Broomé, chief executive at the Family and Childcare Trust, said: “Now is the time to urgently address childcare policy for school age children. For too many families, the long summer holiday is a time of stress and expense as they try to patch together a solution despite the gaps in availability and financial support.
“Current government policies, including the new ‘right to request’, are not working to help families to deal with school age childcare. This price rise is another blow for families already struggling to find and afford childcare over the long school holidays.”
County Councillor Susie Charles, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Schools, said: “There are sufficient childcare places available to meet the demand across Lancashire. This availability applies for each age group and type of provider.
“We are proud of the range of high quality childcare locations that are offered. Only last month the Department for Education (DfE), recognised that 95 per cent of childcare locations in Lancashire are judged to be Good or Outstanding by Ofsted.
“Our locations are also flexible and are able to accommodate the changing needs of families who rely on them to access work or training opportunities.
“We don’t rest on our laurels though and are keen to support schools through the ‘right to request’ agenda. We are committed to continuing to support childcare locations to expand their places when there is a need to do so with the provision of high quality places.
“Our Family Information Service is available to support families to look at different childcare options, explain the different support available and talk to providers on their behalf.”·
HMRC has been working to improve support for families, and working parents in the North West are being reminded they can use Tax-Free Childcare (TFC), which is worth up to £2,000 per child per year, to pay for regulated holiday clubs during the school holidays.
More than 58,000 registered childcare providers including school, football, art and tennis clubs have signed up across the UK. Parents that pay into their account regularly can ‘save up’ their TFC allowance and use it for childcare during school holidays.
The money can go towards a whole range of regulated childcare including nurseries, child minders, before and after school clubs, or holiday clubs.
Parents can apply for Tax-Free Childcare and 30 hours free childcare.
They can then both be used together, with Tax-Free Childcare payments applying to any additional childcare costs over and above the 30 hours support, throughout the year.
Both offers are available to self-employed parents.
Parents can find out what government help is available and apply online by visiting the Childcare Choices website www.childcarechoices.gov.uk
It includes a Childcare Calculator (http://www.gov.uk/childcare-calculator) that compares all the government’s childcare offers to check what works best for individual families.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Liz Truss, said: “Organising childcare for school holidays is important for parents. Tax-Free Childcare and 30 hours free childcare help make things easier by cuttings thousands of pounds from the childcare bills of working parents.
“So I hope families across the North West visit the Childcare Choices website to take advantage of the offer available from the Government, and enjoy the holidays.”
Children and Families Minister, Nadhim Zahawi, said: “We are spending more than any other government on childcare because we want every child to get the best start in life.
“We are supporting as many families as possible with access to high-quality, affordable childcare helping to put more money in their pockets and balancing work and family lives.”