Employers for Childcare survey highlights yet again the desperate need for action on childcare, says Nicholl

Results of a major childcare survey which showed the average cost of a full-time childcare place here has risen by 14 per cent are startling but not surprising, Alliance MLA Kate Nicholl has said.

Kate Nicholl Childcare

The party’s Early Years and Childcare spokesperson was speaking following the findings of the survey by Employers for Childcare, which showed the rise since 2021, meaning it is now more than £10,000 a year. 

“These results are startling but not surprising, as they reveal what we already know – the cost of childcare is increasingly unaffordable and having a serious impact on our society and economy,” said South Belfast MLA Ms Nicholl.

“Behind each of these figures is a heartbreaking story of an individual or family in serious distress, some of whom I have met and supported.

“The survey highlights 88 per cent of parents have had to change their work arrangements due to the cost of childcare. This is a particularly disturbing figure demonstrating the wider impact lack of childcare has on our whole society, not just those facing the direct costs. As a result, we are losing vital skills and talent across every sector, including those desperate to retain and recruit staff. This is also undoubtedly a gendered issue, with women being more likely to leave the workplace or reduce their hours. 

“Another particularly concerning figure shows 15 per cent of families use an unregistered childminder for some or all of their childcare. Unaffordability or lack of registered provision is causing some families to leave their children in entirely unregulated and illegal settings. This is deeply concerning for children, who are missing out on access to the best quality care and early education in a safe and regulated setting, and highlights the urgent need for investing in childcare to be a day one priority for the next Executive.  

“It is shameful we have not had an Assembly and Executive in place to deal with the myriad of challenges facing households, families and the childcare sector. We need to see delivery of the far too long-awaited Early Education and Childcare Strategy at the earliest possible opportunity and implementation of a process of transformation to create a more sustainable sector, deliver high-quality provision and reduce costs for parents. 

“In October 2023, Alliance published our proposals for child-centred and affordable childcare, Children First. It offers a blueprint for an incoming Executive to begin to transform our childcare sector for the sake of our whole society.”


You can read Alliance's Children First policy here.