Children are facing the prospect of being swept into poverty during the summer holidays as their parents try to juggle rising costs, especially for childcare, according to new research commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and carried out by Loughborough University.
The Minimum Income Standard (MIS) shows a steep rise in the cost of transport, nursery fees and leisure activities, suggesting that many families will have to forego experiences that the public deem should be part of every childhood.
New research from Save the Children also shows that families are being locked into debt when needing to find large sums up-front to cover the costs of extra childcare over the summer. It comes as the Education and Work and Pensions Select Committees held the first hearings in a new inquiry into poverty in the school holidays.
JRF is calling for Universal Credit to support working parents more effectively by paying support up front and making sure rebates keep up with the real costs of childcare. The average nursery fee is now £240 a week per child, whereas Universal Credit caps the rebate at £175.
Responding to the reports and the MPs’ investigation, Chris Goulden, Deputy Director of Evidence and Impact at JRF said:
“We all want to live in a country where children have the best start in life and can enjoy a summer where they can relax, play and spend time with their families. But high costs, especially for holiday childcare, mean that too many miss out on these experiences as their parents face impossible situations to try get through the summer months and make ends meet.
“It’s unacceptable more working parents are being pulled into a rising tide of poverty by rising costs like childcare. Universal Credit should support parents on low incomes to build a better life for their families through work, but the current system can mean building up debts while waiting for their first payment. MPs are right to look at the difficulties families are facing. We can and must fix this.”