HARD-PRESSED parents are struggling to cope with soaring childcare costs during the summer holidays after Scottish councils slashed subsidies for their own schemes.

Local authority childcare fees have jumped by 22% over the past year, with an average weekly increase of £17.52 to £96.11.

The charity Daycare Trust, which costed holiday childcare, said many households also faced a lottery in finding and paying for appropriate care due to the reduction in council subsidies.

It found less than one-third of Scotland's 32 councils provide sufficient care for disabled children and just 20% had enough facilities for families in rural areas.

Around 18% of councils also reported cuts to their holiday play service budget, according to the charity.

The cost of private, voluntary and independent provision increased by a fraction (0.2%) to £101.32 in comparison, while overall costs for holiday childcare in Scotland rose by 10% to £99.58.

Anand Shukla, chief executive of Daycare Trust, said: "This year's survey illustrates the lottery parents face when it comes to not only finding, but paying for, childcare during the long school holidays. Council cuts to holiday childcare budgets are hitting families hard, with only half of local authorities ensuring that working families have the childcare they need this summer.

"As a result, many Scottish parents are struggling to find childcare during the school holidays – with families with disabled children and those living in rural areas particularly badly served."

The average cost of a week's school holiday care north of the Border jumped from £89.79 in 2011 to £99.58 this year, compared with the UK average, which rose 3% to £99.87.

The trust said in many cases childcare vouchers could be used to help ease the cost for parents, but less than one in four local authorities was aware of whether care providers would accept the vouchers.

Jacqueline Cassidy, of Children in Scotland – a national agency which deals with childcare organisations – called on the Scottish Government to take action. She said: "For many parents school holidays become less about spending time as a family than the stress of managing a patchwork arrangement of childcare that relies on the goodwill of grandparents, relatives, neighbours and friends. Nearly one-fifth of Scottish local authorities have reported cuts to their holiday play service budget.

"Holiday clubs and activities can be prohibitively expensive for many families, especially those with more than one child or with a child who has a disability.

"It can be great for children to see grandparents and friends, but many families don't have a good support network close at hand. And relying on favours isn't the way to ensure all children have the best care and education experiences, while allowing their parents to work.

"Affordable, accessible and good-quality out-of-school care that extends into the holidays needs to be part of the Scottish Government's forthcoming Children and Young People's Bill, so parents and children can both enjoy the holidays."

Marion Davis, of One Parent Families Scotland, added: "From the calls to our helpline, we know parents are struggling to find childcare for their children over the summer holidays.

"We know there is especially a lack of services available for disabled children and children aged 12 and above. Parents who work outside normal hours also find it extremely difficult. Parents are also struggling with the increase in childcare costs over the summer. It's very expensive and they are being forced to pay out the equivalent of a family holiday simply to have children looked after so they can get to work.

"Affordable, high-quality childcare is crucial – parents shouldn't have to choose between giving up work or leaving their children unsupervised. ."

Councils' umbrella body the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) said it was not convinced the survey provided an accurate picture of childcare in Scotland, despite some information being obtained through freedom of information requests to local authorities.

Douglas Chapman, the organisation's spokesman on education, children and young people, added: "Local authorities are fully committed to providing quality childcare and supporting families where they can."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "The Scottish Government is aware of the challenges parents can face with the cost of childcare. We are working to increase flexible, affordable, accessible childcare, including proposals to expand the flexibility of early learning and childcare. Options for outside of school term times and for support with costs are part of our ongoing consultation."