According to a study carried out by the Family and Childcare Trust, lack of childcare during school holidays is costing the British economy a whopping £100 million a year.
Not only did almost a fifth of parents have to call in sick in 2013 to look after their kids, but 12% actually gave up their job entirely. And with the average cost of a holiday club increasing to over £100 a week, it is easy to see why parents are struggling. So what are some money saving solutions to childcare during the summer holidays? Here at Savoo we give you an overview.
Time off work
Cost: Annual leave
Instead of taking the whole summer off work (which most employers won’t be very happy about), why not alternate annual leave with the other parent? Mum can book two weeks in a row, and dad the following two weeks. This does require forward planning, and it means you will have little time left over for family holidays. However, that’s four weeks covered where you do not have to pay for any childcare (as well as priceless time with the kids).
Grandparents are often more than happy to step in over the summer holidays- and best of all they will usually do it for free (or a least for less money than organised child-minders!). Your kids get to stay with people they know and trust, and you don’t have to worry about extortionate childcare costs.
Work from home
If your children are old enough to amuse themselves in the company of an adult- and if you work in a desk job- speak to your employer and see if you can work from home for a few weeks. Whilst not viable for everyone (especially if you have small children who need a lot of attention), this could save you a lot of money on summer childcare.
Cost: £100 a week
The above suggestions might be cheap, but they are unlikely to cover the whole of the six week holiday. Summer camps are often pricey (on average now over £100 a week), but they can be a godsend if you are stuck for ideas.
Local day or residential holiday clubs offer activity based childcare, and are licensed, regulated and properly insured. Not only will your kids learn new skills like sports and drama, but they will also benefit from interacting with other children outside of school.
Combination of the above
Can’t find one single solution to the childcare problem? Combine all of the above! One week with family, two weeks annual leave, one week at summer camp and two weeks with a child minder will cut costs and ensure that your kids don’t get bored- although this will take some serious organising.
In the UK there is also financial help towards childcare specifically for working parents.
If you work at least 16 hours a week and pay for childcare, you may be eligible for tax credits. The government will cover up to 80 per cent of your childcare costs up to £175 a week for one child, and £300 for two or more children; this works out to a maximum of £140 or £240 a week. Take a look at the government website for more information.
Find out if your employer offers childcare vouchers: these allow you to pay for childcare from your salary before tax and National Insurance are removed. Whilst you will have to take a cut in pay, this scheme could save you up to £1,200 a year in tax. Use this calculator to see if you are better off taking childcare vouchers than tax credits.
Free childcare entitlement
All three and four year olds in England are entitled to 15 hours of free care each week for 38 weeks of the year. You can start claiming after your child turns three, although some two year olds are also eligible. Find out more about this here.
Are you a parent and still in fulltime education? You might be eligible for a childcare grant, offering up to a maximum of £255 a week if you have two or more children; the government website has more information about this.
What are your solutions to the summer holiday childcare problem? Let us know! And don’t forget to check out our post on school holiday essentials for ideas on entertaining the kids.