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Postcode lottery for affordable childcare

Out of school childcare is becoming increasingly expensive and difficult to find, with many parents faced with a stark postcode lottery of prices and availability, a new report from the Family and Childcare Trust has revealed.

The trust’s analysis concluded that across England, Scotland and Wales two fifths (40%) of councils had enough term-time out-of-school care for five to 11-year-olds in all or most of the local authority. In Wales alone the figure was 45%, in Scotland it was 47% and in England it was 38%.

However, just 5% of councils in Wales had sufficient out-of-school activities for 12 to 14-year-olds – compared to 27% in England and 28% in Scotland. And only 18% of local councils had enough holiday childcare, compared to 41% in England and1 9% in Scotland.

In addition, the cost of childcare is becoming increasingly expensive with the average cost of an after school club providing 15 hours of care now £48.19 a week – an increase of 9% in the last five years.  And for one week of full-time childcare (40 hours) during the holidays, it costs on average £114.51, the study revealed.

Anand Shukla, chief executive of the Family and Childcare Trust, said: “For many working parents hoping that their childcare struggle ends when their children start school, this damning research shows that unfortunately the opposite is true.

“Far too many parents face a never ending battle to secure affordable, quality childcare just so that they can go to work to provide for their families.”

A poll conducted with parenting website Netmums for the report found that more than 40% of parents said that their childcare arrangements became more difficult as their children started school, while more than 60% said they had been forced to change their working patterns to accommodate childcare when their youngster went to school.

In response, a Department for Education spokeswoman stated that childcare is a key issue for parents. “That's why as part of our plan for childcare we're committed to driving up the choice, quality and flexibility of provision,” she said.

“As a result 64% of primaries are now providing care before school and 70% after, and after 12 years of rising prices the cost of childcare in England is actually falling in real terms. But we want to go further. That's why, next year, we'll be introducing tax free childcare, providing 1.9 million families with up to £2,000 of support per child.”

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