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New research by the Family and Childcare Trust and parenting website Netmums has revealed that almost a fifth (17 per cent) of parents had to call in sick last year in order to manage childcare during the six-week summer holiday.
This means the UK economy is potentially missing out on nearly one million working days, costing nearly £100m every year, according to the report.
The survey coincides with the Family and Childcare Trust’s annual review into holiday childcare, which shows the average price for holiday clubs and play schemes has gone up to £114.51 per week. Some parents are not able to find summer holiday provision at all, as the survey reveals that only 27 per cent of local councils in England and 6 per cent in Wales had enough holiday childcare for working parents.
Anand Shukla, Family and Childcare Trust’s chief executive, said: “A combination of unaffordable prices, lack of holiday childcare and inflexible employers is not only causing stress for parents, but it’s bad for the economy.
“Most parents have no choice but to work, and should not have to take sick days to manage childcare. This is not the way to operate a modern economy, and this is why we are calling on employers and head teachers to help parents manage the school holidays, and on government for a new childcare strategy that properly represents the realities working families face today.”
Other key findings from the research show that a further 12 per cent of parents had been forced to give up their jobs entirely due to a lack of childcare; a family with two school-age children that has to buy four weeks of childcare at a holiday club or play scheme will need to find around £900; more than a quarter of parents (27 per cent) said they had not been able to take a family holiday together because they had to use their annual leave separately to cover childcare for their children and 66 per cent said the summer is the most difficult time of the year for finding childcare.
Julia McGinley from Netmums said: “This important report echoes what we hear from parents online every day. We were shocked but not surprised to hear about the difficulties that parents face in finding and paying for childcare in the holidays. Many parents get by on a wing and a prayer and that’s not good enough. No parent should be forced to give up work because they can’t find childcare.”