You are here: News British parents face a ‘double squeeze’ of expensive childcare costs and patchy availability this summer

As the long school holidays approach, families across Britain are gearing up for another challenging summer of eyewatering childcare prices and limited availability. Coram Family and Childcare’s 16th annual survey published today finds that there has been a 5% rise in costs since the survey was last carried out in 2019. The average place at a holiday club now costs £145 per week - more than double what parents pay for an after school club during term time.

Alongside this financial strain, parents may also struggle to find the childcare they need, with only 33% of English local authorities reporting enough holiday childcare available for parents in their area who work full time. The report also reveals that a third (33%) of all local authorities in Britain have reported a decrease in the number of holiday childcare places available, potentially as a result of the pressures on the sector from Covid-19. This raises significant concerns about whether there will be enough childcare places if demand rises back to pre-pandemic levels in the coming months and echo recent research by the TUC* which found nearly two-thirds of working mothers do not have enough childcare for the school holidays.

The survey demonstrates considerable regional variation across Britain . This ‘postcode lottery’ means that parents in the South West are paying up to 19% more for holiday places than parents in the North West. The report also highlights extreme shortages in holiday childcare for disabled children, with only 16% of local authorities in England reporting that they have enough. Other notable gaps in England include holiday childcare for older children aged 12-14 and children living in rural areas with only 13% and 12% of local authorities respectively reporting they have enough childcare availability.

Megan Jarvie, Head of Coram Family and Childcare, said:

As the country plans to rebuild from the the pandemic, it is vital that children and young people are placed at the centre of this recovery. Holiday childcare will be crucial for giving children a safe and fun space to catch-up on lost learning and connect with peers – but this year more than ever parents are likely to struggle to find the childcare they need to be able to keep working and for their children to have fun and stay safe.

Rising costs and falling availability means that they are facing a double squeeze as they search for childcare they can afford that meets their needs. Without action to make sure there is affordable out of school childcare for every child who needs it, we are at risk of seeing parents – and mothers in particular – struggle to keep working.

The Holiday Childcare Survey 2021 sets out actions that the Scottish, Welsh and UK governments can take to fix the problems in the system:

  • Include out of school childcare within pandemic recovery planning, given its vital role around helping children to catch up on lost learning and supporting parents to work.
  • As part of the evaluation of the Holiday Activities and Food programme, consider the role that this funding could have to improve access to affordable, high quality childcare and feed this learning into future funding.
  • Move to upfront payments for the childcare element of Universal Credit so that it offers comparable support to families claiming Tax Free Childcare. This will mean that parents can get the support they need to be able to pay the higher childcare costs during school holidays.
  • Make sure there is enough year-round childcare for every working family that needs it, including school age children. Governments should prioritise the groups that currently face the biggest shortages: children in rural areas, 12 to 14 year olds and disabled children.


Notes to Editors 

  • For a copy of the full report, comment and case studies, please contact Emma Lamberton, Senior Communications Manager, Coram at / 07908 827908.
  • The Holiday Childcare Survey 2021 is based on surveys from local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales, which were returned to Coram Family and Childcare between April and June 2021. The report provides detail on the cost and availability of childcare for children aged 4-14 years during the 13 weeks of school holiday per year. The provision of childcare covered in the report includes Ofsted-registered holiday clubs managed by the private, voluntary and independent sectors and those run by local authorities. The use of childminders, informal childcare (such as that provided by other parents or grandparents), or holiday camps (such as for football or drama) are excluded from the report.
  • *Research by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) published on 15 July
  • The average weekly price of holiday childcare, by nation and region, weighted, is included below.

About Coram Family and Childcare

Coram Family and Childcare works to make the UK a better place for families by bringing together what we learn from our on the ground parent-led programmes and our research to campaign for solutions that parents want and need. We focus on childcare and early years to make a difference to families’ lives now and in the long term. Before August 2018, we were known as the Family and Childcare Trust.

About Coram

Coram is the UK’s oldest children’s charity, supporting children to have the best possible chance in life since 1739. We work as a group of specialist organisations helping more than a million children, young people, families and professionals every year. We support children and young people from their earliest days to independence, creating a change that lasts a lifetime. We help build their confidence; we help them to develop skills; we uphold their rights, we support practitioners in the areas of fostering and adoption and we find loving adoptive families for the most vulnerable children. We work in over 2,000 schools supporting nearly half a million children, run London’s largest Regional Adoption Agency and provide free legal advice for thousands of children and families who need it every year. 




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