Summer childcare costs driving parents into debt

The cost of childcare over the school summer holidays is driving families into debt and is particularly difficult for those on Universal Credit says a new report by Save The Children.

The charity says parents are being driven into debt as their childcare costs soar when their children are off school.

Up to £800 a month

Spokeswoman Charlotte Rose said: “Parents say they face going into debt or turning down work as childcare costs rise by up to £800 a month during the holidays with 30,000 families on Universal Credit already forced to pay huge ‘up front’ childcare bills.”

Families on Universal Credit can reclaim 85% of their childcare costs, but they have to pay the bills first which adds to their financial pressures.

Forced

In a statement the charity said: “Thousands of families on Universal Credit – the government’s flagship welfare reform programme – are being made to pay for childcare costs upfront, before waiting up to a month to be reimbursed. Increased costs during the school holidays mean parents are being forced to take out loans to cover the shortfall, or even give up work altogether.”

Change the system

The charity is calling on the government to change the system so parents get help with paying for childcare before actually having to pay the fees.

Martha Mackenzie, the charity’s Director of UK Poverty Policy, said: “It’s simply not right that families are being driven into poverty and debt by soaring childcare costs.

Parents tell us it feels as if the system is stacked against them.

Sky high childcare bills

“They rely on childcare to go to work, but when the school holidays come around they find themselves faced with sky-high childcare bills they can’t afford.

They are having to resort to desperate measures – cutting back on essentials, falling behind on bills or getting into debt – just to go to work.

“Instead of setting families up to struggle, the government must change the system so that parents can get help with their childcare costs before they need to pay fees.

This would make a massive difference to parents and children living in poverty — and it wouldn’t cost more money.”

Food banks

The Trussell Trust is predicting the summer is likely to be the busiest on record for their service with ever higher demands being placed on what they have to offer.

Spokeswoman Abby Jitendra saying: “There is so much that the government could do to provide support during the holidays, but, fundamentally, if people can’t afford the very basics like food and activities all year round, the problem is only going to continue.”