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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 July, 2003, 09:38 GMT 10:38 UK
Holiday childcare costs 'soar'
Child playing on a beach
Summer holiday childcare costs 400 on average

Parents are facing a 16% rise in the price of summer holiday childcare this year, according to a survey by a childcare charity.

The typical weekly cost of a place in a summer holiday play scheme in 2003 has increased to 67.70 a week, from 58.46 last year, the Daycare Trust said.

However, some holiday play schemes can cost as much as 135 a week, a quarter of the national average household weekly income of 550, and nearly double the 77.60 average weekly spend on food and housing.

The Daycare Trust said despite significant investment in childcare, access to quality childcare services over the summer varied widely - and was unaffordable for many.

Rising costs

According to a survey of Children's Information Services, the total number of childcare places has risen this summer.

But 40% still reported a shortage of quality and affordable childcare in their area.

And many schemes do not run for the full six weeks of the school holiday, causing serious problems for working parents.

Daycare Trust director Stephen Burke said: "Every year many parents struggle to arrange and afford childcare for their children during the summer holidays while they are at work.

"This survey highlights the fact that summer holiday childcare remains well beyond the reach of many low income families."

Mr Burke said parents needed more help, ideally through the new tax credits system.

"Holiday childcare benefits everyone - providing stimulating and enjoyable activities for children, peace of mind for parents, and creating safer communities."

Are you having problems arranging childcare for your child this summer? How much money do you spend each week on childcare costs? Do you find paying for childcare a struggle? Has the situation improved? Send in your comments, using the postform at the top of the page.

Your comments:

Until he stared school at Easter, my 5 year old son attended a local day nursery. The cost for this was 120 per week. Now he is at an after-school club run by the local YMCA, at a cost of 26 per week. They also operate a holiday club, which costs 60 per week. This includes trips to the cinema, park, swimming with small extra charges for trips to the zoo or themed parks. I don't think 60 is excessive but there again I was recently paying double that !
Nicky Chapman, Suffolk, England

I will be paying 13.50 a day for my 10 year old son to go to the Leeds Teaching Hospital Summer Play Scheme. I think we get value for money even though it is a struggle to find the extra costs and after receiving the governments help of extra funding which equals 23p extra a month!! Don't know what i would do without their help!! This doesn't even pay for the extra bus fares!
Amanda, West Yorkshire

My son is to be employed on a Summer play scheme. He has been CRB checked and will receive training prior to his employment. He will receive less than 200.00p per week that he works and nothing for the period of training. Accommodation and food are not provided. I know that he is looking forward to it and enjoys working with young people. However, parents who need to use such schemes have to recognise that to provide a quality service the people who run them do need to be paid a reasonable rate. In the past women who stayed at home to look after children felt they were devalued. The low rates of pay in much of the childcare sector, while in some sense are inevitable, continue to demean those involved in the care and nurture of children in our society.
Jo Catling, England

With 2 children, I gave up work as a PA in investment banking 3 yrs ago and got a term-time PA job in a school instead - less money (obviously) but less childcare costs and no hassle over what to do in the hols...roll on end of term!
Helen Bailey, UK

My son will be attending a Summer club. It is costing us 90 per week and, due to the schools not starting back until a Wednesday, will not cover all of the days. I live in an area where childcare provision is low and, therefore, expensive. At times the childcarers do not cover the hours parents work. This particular club is open for 8 hours per day and we normally work 9 hours per day. This means we miss 7 hours per week each during school holidays (Christmas, Easter, Summer, etc). I wonder how many hours are lost nationally due to expensive or unsuitable childcare?
Pauline Yates, Suffolk, UK

I'm a single mum of two, on a low income. Usually my parents kindly baby-sit for free while I am at work. However, my parents are off on their summer holiday next week. The local holiday club is 14 per day per child, and a child minder costs anything from 2.50-4 per hour, per child. As I only earn 5 per hour, it doesn't take a genius to work out that I can't afford to use childcare services. I've had to take holiday leave from work instead, as it works out cheaper for me to do that.
Rebecca Hartburn, Co Durham

I used to pay for two children to be in nursery. It got easier when they went to school. What became more difficult was finding somewhere to take them especially as they get older. They hate going so we try and get family to look after them, take time off and send them to day care during the holidays but it is a lottery. I hate to think how we'll get them to go when they are 13 because childcare does not really cater for older children although legally we can't leave them at home alone. The cost are high to the parent but the wages to the staff are poor given the levels of responsibility they have. I've never really understood why there is so little government (local and central) investment in this necessary area given the enormous amount of tax we pay as a household.
Sheila Brown, UK

Holiday childcare cost for my 5 year old ranges from 65 a week to 80 a week. Whilst I think this is a lot, it's actually loads cheaper than nursery costs used to be. (47 a day) So long as the club are keeping my son entertained and he's enjoying himself then I think these prices are a small one pay.
Tracey Wylie, Hampshire, UK

You get what you pay for. As it is, childcare workers are usually grossly underpaid and overworked. Parents cannot expect quality care for their kids if they are not willing to pay for it.
Miriam Seshadri, USA

While I have no children I can appreciate the difficulties faced by low income families during the long summer holiday. I would suggest the abolition of Child benefit and the reallocation of this money to the new tax credit system. This would better target government resources aiding low income families and save on the administration of Child Benefit.
Mark Cockburn, Scotland

I currently have to pay 500 per month for my 17 month olds childcare. It is ridiculous money. I get 15 per month to help towards that through the new tax credit. Peanuts. When is the government actually going to help working mothers?
Lorraine, Tyne & Wear

We pay 21 per day for our daughter to go to the holiday club run at her school but we pay 800 per month for our son to go to day nursery. The holiday club is comparatively fantastic value for money and includes a wide variety of activities and nutritional food. It is however irritating that parents who have a combined salary of more than 58,000 per year get absolutely no help with childcare costs. We have been hit hard by NI and council tax rises.
Jan Goodeve, UK

My daily childcare costs double from 10 during term time to 20 during holidays. I am glad my daughter is growing up now and this is probably the last year I will have to use a minder for her, which she finds extremely boring. I know she would be far more interested in a summer activity scheme but the authorities should get real and provide schemes with more realistic hours. How is a full time working parent supposed to drop a child off at 10am and pick them up by 4.30? Impossible - especially if you have to commute into London.
Mary, UK

Childcare here in Wales is sparse to say the least - not that much better in England either. No after school care that is convenient - why can't this be done by schools? Before school care is virtually non existent or doesn't fit with work times. Full time holiday care is difficult to find too - the whole system is hit and miss, unaffordable for most and yet the key to getting everyone out to work!! Crazy! Even worse once child reaches 11 - no provision whatsoever!!
Linda Joseph, UK

I pay 90 for 3 days for my two children. If I worked 5 days that would be 150. That price includes a discount for the second child. If I only had one child it would be 100 per week. My childminder has not increased her charges for the last 3 years to try and help out. The company I work for help with childcare costs but now both of my children are in full time education I no longer receive any help and that makes a big difference. By the time I've paid for childcare, there isn't much left to take the children out on the days I don't work. Another problem is that now my son is 8, he really doesn't want to spend the day with toddlers, but the local play schemes only seem to cover normal school hours which is no use to parents who work a full day.
Jo Kettle, Britain

I presume these figures are based on a single child? It would be interesting to find out how many parents actually only have one child. Last summer, my wife and I paid in excess of 800 a month for our two children. Like many, we find that the only way that house ownership is affordable is if both parents work full time. Childminders are the only option we have. There are far too few nursery places, and many holiday childcare schemes only run from say 08:00 until 16:00. No good if you work 08:30 until 17:00 with an hours commute at either end!
Ashley Clarke, England

Another example of the "I want it all for nothing culture" in the UK. We expect cheap child care but look the other way when a childcare assistant is paid minimum wage. 67 a week to look after your child, and you think that is expensive; to keep your dog in an pound while on holiday costs more. Solution, one partner take two weeks off work, followed by the other partner taking the following fortnight as holiday, then you only have two weeks to pay for day care in the UK school holidays.
James Courtney, UK

It's about time the government saw sense with regards to the amount of holidays that children are given. The average worker gets something like 23 days Annual leave a year. This doesn't even cover the six weeks never mind Christmas and Easter. To alleviate the burden on parents and to address issues like poor educational standards we should be looking at halving the summer break. It's more helpful to parents than simply making exams easier every year. Easter and Christmas should only be a week too.
Jim Butler, UK

Although I receive Tax Credits from the government towards my childcare costs these are based on my usual (Term Time) expenditure. This average cost rises dramatically from around 60 a week to 150 a week in the Summer holidays. This increase is not covered by any seasonal adjustment under the government Tax Credit scheme nor is there any adjustment made by the CSA in my ex-partners payments to account for this increase. Add to this the fact that most UK companies allow only 4 weeks holiday per annum. And you'll find that single parents often work through out the Summer paying huge amounts for childcare without being able to afford a decent holiday themselves.
Kate Deans, UK

I have 3 children, a 7 year old and 10 year old twins. I would prefer not to work and stay at home with my children, but financially that has proved an impossibility. My husband and I will take turns having time off during the holidays with family helping out where they can. I am a nursery nurse by trade and feel that its worth paying good wages for those who look after and educate our children, but the government have got to give somewhere. Childcarers deserve a decent standard of living and parents deserve peace of mind and a decent standard of living too. I don't know what the answer is, I have no magic wand, but maybe childcarers and parents should pool ideas to come up with a feasible way forward to propose to Government.
Michelle Fisher, West Midlands

I currently pay 84.50 per week per child for day care during the summer holidays. As a single mother, the financial impact this has on me is horrendous, especially at a time when trying to budget for the new school term, not to mention Christmas. I rely heavily on my mother to provide additional support to reduce costs, but as she works this is quite difficult. These spiralling costs almost negate my salary and leave very little to cover normal household costs.
Kate Barnes, England

I send my grandsons to their school during the summer holidays here in the US, they have a summer camp, it costs me #30.00 a day for the two of them, and this includes snacks and field trips. The schools in the UK should arrange summer camps for the children like they do over here, it is a good system and the children are safe plus they are in a place that is very familiar to them.
Meg Webb, UK/USA

The bottom line is that it is not easy when they are young, although it can help a great deal if you have family willing to help out or if you work in those sectors of education whose holidays coincide with school holidays. It does get progressively easier as they get older and by the time they are teenagers they just want to go an hang around with their friends - which brings an interesting new set of worries. Sadly in these days of inflated property prices and rents, choosing not to work and staying at home with them doesn't seem to be a very good option.
Martin Rapier, Sheffield, UK

I'm a full time single dad, in full time employment. My 10yr old daughter is going to Holiday club which will cost 75 for 5 days. I know that she is being looked after, I know that she is safe, that she will have fun and plenty of things to do. Not cheap, but I cant leave at home on her own for six weeks.
Jim Cant, England

I chose not to have children as, besides not having the patience and never feeling the time was right, I'm not interested in giving up my career, my financial independence and all the other opportunities that would be denied to me if I were to have them. It appears to be patently obvious that lack of childcare, thus forcing women to choose dead-end, low-paid jobs, has a significant part to play in the drop in the birthrate which renders our population unsustainable. Men have never had to choose between career and family, and, given the low status given by society to anything regarded as 'women's work', what incentive is there for women today to choose to do this with their lives?
Helen Carter, Mexico (ex-UK)

I am the chairperson of our local out of school groups supporting 4 schools in our area to run out of school clubs. This is effective childcare out of school and cheap (12 per day and a discount for more than one child). Perhaps some of your busy "executive type" contributors to this debate, could put some effort as we have done to get funding (Via NOF) and make it happen for themsleves. I just want to add that I gave up a High flying career to be a teacher so that I can be with my children during holidays. You only get one shot at being a parent and children grow up so very quickly. A friend of mine said no one has been recorded as saying on their death bed "I wish I had spent more time in the office!" many people, including me I suspect say "I wish I had been with my kids more" Holidays can be a bleesing not a curse. Its all about priorities.
Lynn Massey-Davis, Yorkshire, England

I am married, and my husband works away most of the time, for a borderline wage. I was until recently working on minimum wage. My daughter was 11 and son 3. What did I do in the holidays? I took as much leave as I could, I sent my children to my ill mother, I left my daughter home alone and I paid more in childcare for my son than I earned per hour to be looked after by a teenager with minimal training in a leisure centre scheme, probably earning minimun wage too. I did not feel my children were safe, and nor were they happy. I am now one of the very priviliged that have found a job that will allow me to work term time only. Most are not so lucky.
Sally, UK

I have just left my wonderful job due to the cost of childcare over the summer holidays. I am now searching for 'term time' employment and I am desperate to find work for September. I am a Nursery Nurse myself and my children could have attended the Holiday Club where I worked, but I would have been paying double to what I earn. Other more affordable Holiday Clubs in the area are not open early enough for me to get to work. Now I cannot work with the children whom I adore due to these high costs and Term Time jobs are few and far between!
Carla Dimeloe, uk

There are scores of holiday childcare schemes available in Warwickshire and at a reasonable price. The problem is which working parent can find time to take them to a course that starts at 10am and finishes at 1pm. It doesn't even provide half day cover!
Stella, UK

Summer camp costs rise
Area 2003 costs 2002 costs
East England 79.86 58.00
Inner London 48.24 51.32
Outer London 60.15 60.00
South East 75.51 60.93
South West 77.86 57.99
East Midlands 68.04 60.99
West Midlands 85.00 57.50
Yorkshire/Humber 59.77 66.86
North West 68.22 59.00
North East 54.38 51.98
National average 67.70 58.46
Source: Daycare Trust

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