Six ways to save on childcare costs over the summer holidays – including extra Universal Credit cash

The cost of childcare during the SUMMER holiday is predicted to rise again this year, pushing some families to the brink.

Last year, parents paid an average of £148 a week per child, or almost £900 for a six-week school break.

Jenny, pictured here with Charlie, 13, Harper, 10, George, 16, and William, 18, paying her older children to look after the younger ones


Jenny, pictured here with Charlie, 13, Harper, 10, George, 16, and William, 18, paying her older children to look after the younger onesCredit: Andy Kelvin / Kelvinmedia

Now, charity organization Coram Family and Childcare, which conducts the annual survey, says costs are growing as families are squeezed by soaring food, energy and housing bills.

The charity’s head, Megan Jarvie, added: “This summer families will have to work harder than ever before.”

Here Mel Hunter has six ways to save. . .

1. Check what support you are entitled to

START by looking around for help, by checking benefits at

If you’re on Universal Credit, the childcare cost rate rose last month to £951 a month for one child and £1,630 for two, which can now be paid upfront if you start. Start a new job or increase hours.

For other working parents, tax-free childcare is available for children 11 years of age or younger or children with disabilities up to 16 years of age.

And for every £8 you pay a childcare provider, the Government pays £2 – but many families are missing out. Visit

For children aged four and over who are entitled to free school meals related to the benefit, the Government Holiday Food and Activity program provides childcare during the holidays for at least four weeks in the summer, plus food.

Learn how to apply through the council’s Family Information Service. This scheme is for England, but contact councils in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to see if offered.

2. Shop around the clubs

The HOLIDAY club is great but can easily cost £50 a day.

It’s usually cheaper if you can sign up for a full week and see if you can try cheaper clubs in schools your kids don’t attend.

Holiday clubs are great but look for clubs run by the YMCA, churches, and faith groups


Holiday clubs are great but look for clubs run by the YMCA, churches, and faith groupsCredit: 2018 Steve Bainbridge

Search for clubs run by the YMCA, churches and faith groups, youth centers and libraries.

In Maidstone, Kent, the YMCA primary age club is £10 for a morning/afternoon, £20 for the whole day.

The charity has clubs in 14 locations from Croydon to Carlisle.

Some sites are free for those who qualify for the Government Holiday Activity Fund, plus low cost sites for others – from £10 a day.

3. How to find cheaper sports programs

Take advantage of most plans to help kids try new sports.

Spend over £30 in-store in Aldi before the end of July and you’ll receive a coupon for your child to book a free tasting of an Olympic or Paralympic sport at

England stars Jude Bellingham and Beth Mead at McDonald's Fun Center


England stars Jude Bellingham and Beth Mead at McDonald’s Fun CenterCredit: Mark Robinson

Footie fans can join the free soccer games at McDonald’s Fun Centers around the country to celebrate the Women’s World Cup – sign up from July 14.

Children aged 5 to 11 can sign up from the Family Hub section at, which is also linked to programs run by the Scottish, Welsh and Irish football associations.

Younger swimmers can enjoy an hour-long swim session for £1 per day during school holidays with Kids For A Quid at 150 UK pools – sign up at better.

The charity TCA Foundation runs cricket summer camps for children aged 7 to 14, for £40 a week or free for children in school benefit related meals.

Several universities host children’s camps in their sports centres – Durham University has a multi-sport camp for children aged 5 to 16 for £16 a day, which is £80 a day. week.

4. Creativity at a lower cost

NOT all kids are into sports but you can find everything from coding clubs to jungle schools at

Search for holiday clubs and see what your local dance or acting schools have to offer.

Northern Arts Factory has a 4-hour drama club for £10 in Halifax


Northern Arts Factory has a 4-hour drama club for £10 in HalifaxCredit: Getty

Northern Arts Factory has a 4-hour drama club for £10 in Halifax, West Yorks.

Monkeys in Motion has camps from £15 per day in Worcestershire and a five-day Mermaid camp for 3-11 year olds in Malvern from £80-£110.

Also check out,, as well as the local council website and the tourist page for your area.

5. Find discount residential camps

A BOARD stay can be great for building children’s independence.

Corporate activities PGL offers day trips and residential areas.

Operation company PGL offers residential and day trips


Operation company PGL offers residential and day tripsCredit: National Citizen Service

Pack three or more kids together and you can save 25% with code KCTHREE, which can take £200 off a three-night outing to under £200 each. Also, if you get tax-free childcare, you can use it toward expenses.

The Outward Bound Trust also has trips for kids, from £549 for a five-day adventure, but you can apply for help with expenses through the foundation’s Adventure Fund at uk.

National charity Go Beyond offers free respite to young people after being referred by a specialist to support them.

Older teenagers aged 16-17 can learn community work and volunteer skills with a five-day trip through the National Citizen Service for £95.

Caregivers, children with disabilities, and those who get free meals at school or in Universal Credit families can receive grants to cover the full cost.

For children with terminal illnesses and their siblings, the charity Over The Wall organizes free camps. See

6. Reach out to your friends and family

MANY parents will join other families in taking turns working and babysitting this summer.

If five adults could each take the kids one day of the week, it would be summer arranged.

To make this work, you can claim some unpaid parental leave and split the cost of lost income.

If you’ve been doing your job for at least a year, you can get up to four weeks, but you need to count whole weeks instead of odd days.

Grandparents who have not yet reached state pension age, who have a gap in the National Insurance record, can get financial assistance by taking care of children under 12 years of age.

Working mum Jenny Hardman, 40, from Preston, Lancs, will face a £720 bill for the summer to put her two youngest children in holiday camp.

But instead, the full-time marketing manager would split the childcare duties with another mother and pay her two eldest sons. William18 and George, 16, to take care of Harper, 10, and Charlie, 13 – halving her costs to around £360.

Jenny said: ‘If I put the kids in resort clubs it would be more than half my salary and I simply couldn’t afford it.

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“I cried until I couldn’t sleep worrying about how to cover the growing rent, food and energy costs.

“It’s not ideal and I wish I could spend more time with the kids, but I have no choice.”

Russell Falcon

Russell Falcon is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Russell Falcon joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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