Lack of childcare during school holidays is costing Britain's economy almost £100 million a year

Taking sick days or giving up work altogether are the only options for some parents during their children's six week summer break

Social Affairs Correspondent

Almost a fifth of parents had to call in sick last year because they could not find enough childcare during the summer holidays.

Another 12 per cent of parents had to give up their jobs entirely because childcare was impossible in the six week break, research by the Family and Childcare Trust and Netmums shows.

The findings mean the UK economy is missing out on nearly a million working days, costing the public purse almost £100 million a year.

Anand Shukla, chief executive of the Family and Childcare Trust 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.”

The average cost of a holiday club or play scheme has gone up to £114.51 a week. Analysis by the Labour Party found that the cost of childcare during the summer holidays has spiralled by 16 per cent under the Coalition - four times faster than wages. It means parents have to spend an extra £100 per child for their summer childcare, compared to 2010.

Shadow Minister for Childcare and Children, Lucy Powell, said: “Under David Cameron childcare costs are soaring and the availability of childcare is plummeting, causing a summer of misery for many parents trying to balance work and family life in the holidays. But while families facing a cost-of-living crisis come under more and more pressure, this Government has no plan to support families struggling with their childcare before the next election.”

A Department of Education spokesperson said: “We understand that childcare is a key issue for parents over the holidays. That is why we want to improve the choice, quality and flexibility of childcare provision in England. 

“After 12 years of consistently rising prices, costs in England have stabilised for the first time - in fact once inflation is taken into account costs for the majority have actually fallen.

“All three- and four-year-olds get 570 hours of free childcare a year. We have introduced tax free childcare for almost two million families so working parents with children under 12 can save up to £2,000 per child per year from 2015. This will help to ensure parents can have what they want - affordable and accessible childcare.”

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