"Childcare is perhaps the most raised issue with me when I ask how we can better support workers. I know what it is like juggling work responsibilities, travelling and bringing up a family. I have spoken with some teachers, some health workers and some people employed in manufacturing, who have shown me their childcare bill.
It is scary. Twelve, thirteen, fourteen and fifteen hundred pounds per month. In many cases, it is larger than their mortgage. I have spoken with women who are holding down a full-time job and paying childcare five days a week. At the end of every month, they have practically nothing left.
They are battling in their mind the merits of their commuting costs against the few pounds they have to spend at the end of each month.
Let me give you this assurance, we must provide better childcare, but it must not be at the cost of the super people, mainly women, who work in the childcare sector. The childcare sector kept going throughout the lockdowns. They turned up to work every day. They juggled pods and isolations in a manner few fully appreciated at the time.
The DUP is alive to the problems in this sector, and we are actively working to ensure they are addressed because this sector is key to getting more people into work and progressing their careers.
Families here spend on average £166 per week on childcare. With England’s average at £139.60, Wales at £129.77 and Scotland at £123.22, Northern Ireland is currently the most expensive region in the UK for childcare. This places an unacceptable burden on families and punishes workers.
The DUP has exciting and ambitious proposals to transform childcare provision in Northern Ireland. We need a root and branch change. We need to cater for the parents who need affordable childcare but also help those working in the sector.
The DUP wants the Executive to deliver a fairer and better resourced system that works for the parent and caregiver.”
On Fair Employment
“The exception for schools is outdated and entrenching the worst strands of the old Northern Ireland. It is a relic from a era which most people have moved on from. Those who cling to it need to move forward and recognise it has no place in 2021.”
“We are committed to delivering upon the New Decade New Approach Agreement in all its parts, including paragraph 10 on page 44. To implement this we must put in place the people and the policies to do so. I am all about delivery. I don’t want countless reviews, consultations and legal challenges. We need to get on in Northern Ireland with building that sense of belonging and prosperity that was promised to all.”