The crippling cost of childcare

In November we launched our latest Childcare Cost Survey, the findings of which show that the cost of childcare continues to rise, with a full-time place now costing £8,528 per year. 

Of the 5,000 local parents that took part in this year’s survey, 61 per cent struggled with the cost of childcare and 24 per cent of respondents were forced to rely on other means to regularly meet their childcare payment, such as credit cards, overdrafts, loans from family/friends or payday loans.

Over half of parents could not say with certainty that they were claiming all the financial help available to their family – highlighting the need for better, more accessible, information for parents.

Our findings were released during the last week of the Executive’s consultation on a Childcare Strategy for Northern Ireland. We welcome the strategy as a necessary measure in addressing the problems associated with childcare provision in Northern Ireland. However, in light of our findings, Employers For Childcare calls on Government to ensure that the forthcoming Childcare Strategy will tackle the problem of childcare affordability, investing funds wisely and targeting areas which will make childcare accessible to families. 

In particular we asked that the strategy includes a commitment to ensure that all parents are aware and availing of the financial support available with the cost of childcare, especially through the provision of direct advice. This is vitally important considering the range of changes to support which will take place in the coming months, such as planned changes to Tax Credits, the closure of the Childcare Voucher scheme to new entrants and the new Tax-Free Childcare scheme – which will make it more difficult for families to understand their entitlements. 

The changes to family support will have devastating repercussions for families; this coupled with the introduction of National Living Wage from next April, which childcare providers have warned will increase childcare costs, will leave many families in difficult financial circumstances. This will undoubtedly leave many parents questioning whether it is financially viable to work at all, which will in turn impact on our local labour market and economy. 

Our Family Benefits Advice Service (0800 028 6538) continues to offer free personalised advice and information to local parents. However, as a small charity we have limited resources and as such are calling on Government to support families by increasing awareness of the financial help available with the cost of childcare.

The full Childcare Costs report can be downloaded from www.employersforchildcare.org

Marie Marin

email: marie.marin@employersforchildcare.org

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