The costs of having children looked after during the summer holidays is adding significantly to the financial headaches of parents across the UK.
In many cases, the fact that children aren’t looked after at their schools during much of July and August results in hundreds of pounds of extra costs.
According to a report looking into these issues from the charity Save the Children, the situation can add as much as £800 per month to the outgoings that households need to cover.
Some parents can cover those costs without much difficulty but for many others the situation creates real problems and an unhealthy reliance of different types of debt.
Meanwhile, a lot of parents find themselves losing out on income during the school summer holidays because they have no choice but to turn down work that they otherwise would’ve taken in order to look after their children.
Save the Children’s report says that the situation for families during the summer months can be particularly painful for those who are in receipt of Universal Credit and need to pay their childcare costs upfront.
Universal Credit is the UK government’s flagship welfare reform project, which is designed to bring together a variety of formerly disparate state benefit payments.
Many thousands of parents are in the process of or have recently been transferred onto the Universal Credit system and are finding it difficult to manage their finances as they make that transition.
“It's simply not right that families are being driven into poverty and debt by soaring childcare costs,” said Martha Mackensie, director of UK poverty policy at Save the Children.
“Parents tell us it feels as if the system is stacked against them. 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.”
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The emergency £20 increase to Universal Credit payments introduced in response to the Covid pandemic could be taken away from prospective recipients from April next year.
Scotland is to become the first nation in the world to provide period products entirely free of charge to all its citizens who need them.
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