Council to review how it supports childcare provision in Belfast, says Maghie

Alliance Councillor Jenna Maghie has urged Belfast City Council to review how it can support childcare provision in the area, as the lack of a Stormont Assembly to deal with the issue continues.

Childcare Jenna Maghie

The East Belfast Councillor was speaking today as she brought a motion to Belfast’s Strategic, Policy and Resources Committee which included calls for Council to review whether schemes supported by the Council during the school holidays can be expanded.

She said: “I’m delighted to have received cross-party support on an issue which has been recognised as a vital part of our social and economic infrastructure. The arguments around childcare are well rehearsed and sadly this is another area where NI lags far behind the rest of the UK.

“With the cost of childcare spiralling and families and parents struggling, it’s extremely frustrating that the DUP has removed the one way forward that could begin to tackle this devastating issue.

“We cannot lessen the impact good, child-centred, quality childcare can have on our society. It is a public good – enabling parents to work, therefore contributing to economic growth and helping fill staffing shortages.

“It helps children get the best start in life and achieve the best educational, health and social outcomes, therefore reducing the need for costly social spending further down the line. It’s where workers, who are too often underpaid for the brilliant work that they do, caring for small people, recognising issues and helping with interventions.

“We all need to do what we can to tackle this issue while some allow it to remain unchanged, which is why Alliance has launched proposals for an Affordable Childcare Scheme, to deliver a practical and child-centred solution to the current crisis, with reduced costs for parents and more support for childcare providers.

“It’s also why in this frustrating absence of a Stormont which could address this issue Council needs to consider what we can do to support parents and the childcare sector and if and how the schemes currently provided by the council in this area during school holidays can be expanded.”