Education Minister must act now to support childcare sector ahead of April cliff edge, says Nicholl

Alliance Early Years and Childcare spokesperson Kate Nicholl MLA has spoken out following a disappointing response from the Education Minister to her calls for immediate support for the childcare sector.

Education Kate Nicholl Childcare Early Years

In response to a question from the South Belfast MLA about the department's assessment of the impact of the rise in the minimum wage coming in April, Minister Givan stated that he would be meeting with childcare providers ‘in the coming weeks’ to develop short-term support measures.


Alliance had previously warnedwhen the 10% minimum wage increase was first announced by UK Government in November, that the imposition of it without sufficient planning and support for childcare providers would have deeply troubling, unintended consequences.


Ms Nicholl has said: “Childcare providers and parents alike are facing a cliff edge as April approaches, with the rise in minimum wage forcing many settings to increase their prices or being forced to consider their ability to remain open. In fact, we’ve already seen this happening in a number of settings.


Quite simply, the minister needs to move at a much more rapid pace to support the childcare sector. While I appreciate that there is a backlog of work and many pressing issues on the desk of every minister, without immediate action to support the childcare sector, parents will be asked to shoulder an unaffordable price hike and settings will be left with incredibly difficult decisions about their continued viability.


The situation is stark, and providers cannot wait for weeks to receive help. This crisis is immediate and requires the Education Minister to move now to provide emergency support.”