The South Down MLA said, “Employers for Childcare have once again highlighted the huge costs of childcare in Northern Ireland. The increase in costs are not just hitting working parents struggling to pay for childcare, but making it unsustainable for providers to continue operating.
Childcare is a key issue for our workforce and the economy. It is taking people out of our key public services because they simply cannot afford to work and pay for childcare. We already knew that childcare costs in Northern Ireland were on a par with central London and any further increase is making it virtually impossible for many people to work.
There is a need for immediate assistance. Childcare governance locally falls between the Department of Health and Education, but with a budget shortfall of half a billion pounds this year, the level of help required is well beyond the means of our local Departments currently.
We have been pressing the Government for some time to increase the tax-free childcare allowance beyond the current 20% and to remove the cap. There was a missed opportunity in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement to take meaningful action in this area.”