Disappointing that improvements to tax-free childcare not included in Spring Budget, says Nicholl

Speaking after the announcement of the Spring Budget, Alliance Early Years and Childcare spokesperson Kate Nicholl MLA has expressed her concern that the UK Government has missed yet another opportunity to enhance the tax-free childcare offered.

Kate Nicholl Childcare Early Years

Ms Nicholl has also noted that this move could have had a significant impact on childcare costs for parents and carers in Northern Ireland.


The South Belfast MLA has said: “Tax-free childcare is not a silver bullet, or the entire solution to tackling the childcare crisis, but it does have an important role to play in supporting parents with high costs, especially in the absence of any other support for childcare costs in Northern Ireland.


We have long since called for a series of improvements to the tax-free childcare scheme, including an uplift in the rate of relief from 20-30%, an increase or removal of the cap, and significant improvements to the interface to make it more user-friendly and accessible to parents and carers.


Alongside improvements to tax-free childcare, we urgently need our own Education Minister to bring forward emergency measures to support the sector and freeze fees for parents, as well as a timeline and plan for the implementation of the Early Learning and Childcare Strategy.


The Strategy is long overdue, and the sector and families are facing a cliff edge with the coming rise in minimum wage in April.


Improvements to the tax-free childcare scheme however would be an immediate way to support parents with increased costs and ease the burden of unaffordability. It is disappointing that this wasn’t part of the Spring Budget, despite repeated calls from Alliance and the sector.


I will continue to be a voice on this crucial issue for children and families, and will continue to fight for improved support, including short-term emergency support and the much-needed long-term transformation of the sector.”