Record holiday childcare costs will hit families across the country this year with charges for council-funded schemes rising by 6.5 per cent since 2010.
As the Daycare Trust released its survey of childcare costs, the Government admitted there was a problem and launched a consultation on the issue. Despite the rising prices, less than one in three councils provides enough childcare to meet demand, forcing many parents to turn to expensive private care schemes or relatives, if they can.
The survey also indicated that most councils have cut holiday childcare budgets in the last year. "Parents struggling to balance work and family life will be extremely worried by this survey which presents further evidence of the childcare crisis," Sharon Hodgson, the Labour shadow minister for children and families, said yesterday.
"Parents are facing a triple whammy on childcare, with costs rising by 6.5 per cent since 2010 at the same time as places have disappeared and financial support from the Government has been slashed."
Care shortages are even worse in rural areas where parents are "almost entirely reliant on relatives", the survey said. The average cost of a week's holiday childcare is now nearly £100, but in the South-east the costs rise to £110 a week.
The Daycare Trust report was published as the Government's childcare commission invited suggestions to improve the affordability and accessibility of childcare.
Case studies: he parent trap
Duncan Brown, 37, Nottingham
Duncan, and his wife Michaela, 36 have two sons, Rowan, eight and Theo, two. The couple find childcare costs a burden. Michaela is a teacher and they face potential changes to the school year in the districts where they live and she works, leaving Duncan fearful of needing to f und extra childcare
"I'm a civil servant and my pay has been frozen for four years. If the dates change and my wife can no longer be home for the whole period, we have no idea where the money would come from.
"I think the Government potentially needs to do something. I even considered not going back to work when our youngest, Theo was born. I'm on around £30,000 a year, but we would only have lost £300 a month if I had stayed home to look after both children, and that was two years ago and costs have gone up since then."
Shara Holmes, 32, Colchester
Shara, an office manager for a PR firm, with husband Roger, 42, a home-shop assistant, and children Abigail, 11, Phoebe, 5, and Amy, 2
"I am a part-time worker, but if I have to pay out for childcare over the summer holidays then it isn't worth me working full time. It leaves me really with no money. To make it work we have to split our shifts so that he is not working when I am.
"If childcare was less, I would definitely work more, I have had to reduce my hours because of our childcare costs. If I went to work full time now it would probably cost me £200 if not £250 to put my youngest into nursery, let alone the costs of the summer holidays and I would not earn enough for it not to be a futile exercise.
"The Government wants us all to go out and work, which is fair enough but with wages as low as they are at the moment and child- care costs as high as they are, it is very difficult to make it worth going to work, the costs are so prohibitive".