Butler alarmed at the cost of childcare in the Northern Ireland Childcare Survey 2023

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Butler alarmed at the cost of childcare in the Northern Ireland Childcare Survey 2023

Robbie Butler MLA, spokesperson for young people, has welcomed the Employers for Childcare Northern Ireland Childcare Survey 2023 but admits he is alarmed by the growing childcare costs in Northern Ireland.

Mr Butler said, “Employers for Childcare go above and beyond to report and highlight the concerns around childcare in Northern Ireland, and whilst the report is welcomed, there are some staggering statistics that cannot be ignored. This includes families with a child under the age of 5 who use formal childcare only, pay an average of over £14k per year for their childcare. This is deeply concerning as the median salary in Northern Ireland is roughly £25k.

“Another concern in the survey was that 15% of parents explained that they were using unregistered childminders, meaning their children could be at risk. Consequently, it disadvantages those registered childminders. The Ulster Unionist Party would want all those offering childminding services to be subject to a robust registration process and inspections.

“It is evident that childcare providers are struggling with their own rising costs which they, in the absence of investment in the sector, have no choice but to pass these costs on to the parents to cover. The survey reported that 84% of providers are at breaking point or even making a loss. However, this is only set to worsen with the uplift to the National Living Wage, which will drive costs up further and increase prices for parents. Quality childcare is in everyone’s interests, but additional support is needed for the sector and the workforce.

“The lack of a Childcare Strategy in Northern Ireland has not gone unnoticed. The lack of an Executive has not gone unnoticed. However, the lack of an Executive means we cannot address the growing concerns around the financial impact of childcare fees on families. When an Executive returns, implementing a Childcare Strategy needs to be a day-one commitment that finally addresses and implements the help and support families need across Northern Ireland.”