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Easter and bank holiday breaks to cost parents

11th April 2011 Print

With the Easter school holiday and subsequent bank holidays starting this week, the Cost of a Child Report, from protection specialist LV=, reveals that UK parents will collectively spend £18.8 billion, or £1,429 per child over all of the school holidays this year. This is made up of £6.9 billion in childcare costs (£533 per child) and £12 billion keeping their kids entertained (£895 per child), from trips to the cinema to dance and music classes throughout the year.

The average school child will have 64 days holiday from school this year, and nearly half of UK parents (49%) need to pay for childcare during these breaks, spending an average of £84 a week per child, adding up to £536 million collectively a week. However, one in ten (10%) of all parents will be relying on family, including grandparents, to look after their children at no cost. Even without the cost of childcare, most (93%) will spend money occupying children over the holidays can soon add up, costing on average £74 a week per child, collectively £900 million a week. Parents with children aged 7-10 years old look set to spend the most on activities at £86 per child per week on average.

A Royal wedding means the holidays are even longer....

This year's extended Easter break with back-to-back bank holidays looks set to cost parents £3.5bn collectively, or £267 per child. That's £100 per child on average in childcare costs and £167 per child in activities.

While the majority of parents (51%) are excited at the prospect of two bank holidays in quick succession after the Easter break (for the Royal wedding and May Day) as they will have more time to spend with their family, one in ten (10%) is concerned about how they will afford the additional costs associated with two bank holidays, while 12% are worried about how they are going to keep their children entertained over the longer break. The extra bank holiday for the Royal wedding adds £206 million to 2011's bill for childcare and entertainment costs.

In light of this, many parents are finding cheaper ways to entertain the family at home. LV='s research has identified the top 10 activities that parents will be doing with their children to keep them entertained during the Easter holidays. Over half (54%) plan to take their children to the cinema and other favourites include visiting family and friends (47%) and watching DVDs at home (50%).

Top 10 family activities for this Easter holiday:

Activity – Percentage
Trips to the cinema 54%
Watching DVDs at home 50%
Visiting family and friends 47%
Trips to leisure centre / swimming pool 45%
Trips to the park 45%
Playing computer games at home 41%
Trips to the seaside 41%
Toys and games at home 41%
Trips to the zoo or local farm 29%
Trips to the countryside 29%

With LV='s annual Cost of a Child Report (link to full report), released earlier this year showing that on average parents are now likely to shell out more than £210,000 on raising a child from birth to the age of 21, it is not surprising that parents are feeling the squeeze. Over a third (39%) of parents state that the costs associated with school holidays this year are unaffordable and a quarter (24%) are looking at ways to cut back.

Sun, sea and sand...not this year!

With families continuing to feel under financial pressure this year, over half of all parents with children under 18 years (55%) have said that they will not be taking any holidays abroad this year and nearly a third (29%) will not even be having a break away in the UK. Of those that are planning to travel abroad this year, the vast majority (74%) will take one trip. Similarly, for those that plan to stick to the UK, 70% will have just one holiday.

These cut backs are not surprising considering the big hole holidays create in parents' wallets. LV='s annual Cost of a Child Report found that parents spend a total of £8,147 on holidays for their child from birth to the age of 21 (an increase of 6.4% from last year).

Mark Jones, LV= head of protection said : "With an average 13 weeks of school holidays a year, parents will feel pressured to find the cash to keep their kids entertained, and keep boredom at bay. All parents know that days out aren't the cheapest option especially once you add travel costs, food and drink to the entrance fee for many attractions. Despite this, I don't think any parent would begrudge the money they do spend on their children, and many will also find savvy ways to reduce costs."

Best things in life are free

Parents may be making cut backs this year but the fun won't stop as nearly two thirds (62%) of savvy mums and dads plan to maximise trips and visits which are low cost or free, such as parks, museums and trips to the library. Over half (59%) plan on using discount offers for attractions to reduce costs and nearly two thirds (63%) will be finding things for the children to do at home, such as cooking or arts, to cut back.

Mark Jones continued:  "We have all considered short term measures to stretch the family budget and try to save money. Yet it's important to keep the bigger picture in mind. Children certainly arrive with a price tag attached, and it's important to think about the overall costs of all the different aspects associated with raising them, so that you can protect your family adequately should you lose an income through ill health, redundancy or even if you weren't around at all. Parents all want the best for their children and even a small amount of financial planning now and for the future can go a long way.''