Employers for Childcare

Marie Marin EFCGetting parents back into work

The most recent labour market statistics for Northern Ireland have shown the largest fall in the number of people claiming benefits for 11 years. The figures also showed a drop in the unemployment rate. Both these trends are good news for the Northern Ireland economy. However, there is still much progress to be made, particularly considering that our region falls far behind the rest of the UK where employment rates and economic inactivity rates are concerned.

Employers For Childcare Charitable Group has long argued that childcare is an economic and labour market issue. Even when jobs are available, many parents are limited by the lack of accessible and affordable childcare which is necessary to help them both access and stay in work.

Our 2012 Childcare Cost Survey for Northern Ireland showed that almost half (46 per cent) of parents reduced their working hours or dropped out of work altogether due to the high cost of childcare. We regularly speak to parents through our helpline and Family Benefits Advisory Service who cannot enter employment because of the lack of affordable childcare. These are parents who could be contributing to the Northern Ireland economy.

If the Northern Ireland Executive hopes to increase the number of working parents, it needs to address the problems associated with childcare. OFMDFM’s consultation on a childcare strategy closed earlier this year. We hope that when the final strategy is released, clear plans will be put in place to build a childcare infrastructure which is fit for purpose and has the potential to support parents into the labour market.

CEO Marie Marin
email. marie.marin@employersforchildcare.org
Call free: 0800 028 6538

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