Parents under pressure as virus limits summer holiday childcare options

24 August 2020

  • More than one in four parents feel unable to ask for childcare help as a result of pandemic
  • 16% of parents require additional childcare help from friends and family this year as they continue to juggle parenting and work responsibilities
  • Parents spend an average of £395.30 per month on childcare, up 13% in the last year

Whilst more than two-fifths (43%) of parents rely on grandparents for childcare support, more than a quarter (28%) feel they can no longer be as dependent on family and friends, due to ongoing health and safety concerns around the pandemic.

New How Britain Lives research from Lloyds Bank revealed that whilst some parents are considering keeping their children away from their grandparents through the summer months in order to keep them safe from the virus, grandparents themselves seem less concerned, with just one in 10 (9%) expecting to do less childcare, and 43% expecting their usual school holiday childcare duties to stay the same. In fact, 11% of grandparents who do not usually take on childcare, have offered to do so in order to support their own children.

Despite ongoing concerns, the circumstances of 16% of parents mean they are having to be more reliant than they would usually be on friends and family this summer, as they continue to balance work and home life commitments.

Parents who are allowing grandparents to take on childcare responsibilities this summer have shown real concern around how time together should be spent, which has led to the ruling out of several typical summer activities, in light of ongoing social distancing restrictions. There has been a significant reduction in the number of parents allowing holidays (-19%), trips to the cinema (-13%), theme parks (-9%), and swimming (-9%) due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Instead, they are more encouraging of activities that keep everyone in open spaces, such as picnics (+5%), and arts and crafts (+1%).

Jo Harris, Managing Director, Lloyds Bank, said: “For many parents, the challenge of conflicting work and childcare commitments continues this summer. Many will be facing difficult decisions around who is best to take care of the children and how to spend that time together, with some opting for activities that keep loved ones closer to home than usual.”

“Whilst some parents remain worried about asking loved ones for support during the ongoing pandemic, not all families can rely on holiday clubs and professional childcare. These options may be a stretch too far for some budgets where paying for additional childcare wasn’t part of the plan.” 

Covering the costs

The costs of professional childcare such as nurseries or child-minders are significant, with parents spending £395.30 per month on average, an increase of £45.80 (13%) in the last 12 months. That means, based on the UK’s average salary, parents are now spending 16% of their net monthly income to cover childcare costs.

On average, grandparents report spending nine hours a week caring for their grandchildren, up from eight hours in 2019. As the UK average hourly pay for professional childcare is just over £8 an hour, this means grandparents are providing the equivalent of over £3,770 worth of childcare throughout the year, or at least £432 for the six weeks of the summer holidays.