Minister must urgently turn warm words on childcare into action and support for parents and providers, says Nicholl

Alliance Early Years and Childcare spokesperson Kate Nicholl MLA has once again called on the Minister of Education to move beyond words about support with childcare costs and urgently act to prevent the crisis from deepening even further.

Kate Nicholl Childcare

Speaking in the Assembly chamber today (9th April), the South Belfast MLA stated that it was long past time for action to support our parents and childcare providers:

“On our first day back in this chamber, every party leader said that childcare was a priority. In the Alliance Party, we have been working hard on this for over two years and we remain the only party to have published a detailed set of proposals to reform childcare and reduce fees for parents. 
“In November, when the Spring Budget was announced, we warned that the rise in the minimum wage would force providers to either close or raise their fees, which is precisely what has transpired. An Employers for Childcare survey released in March stated that 73% of providers have either increased their fees to parents since the start of 2024, or plan to do so before the end of June. These fee increases are part of an ongoing trend, and this may not be the end.
“Parents are feeling let down, disappointed and angry that what was promised has not been delivered. We need an update from the Minister on the task and finish group's progress, an update on work to scope interim support measures for parents and a timeline for the implementation of the early learning and childcare strategy.
“It is now beyond the rise in the minimum wage that we warned would force providers to increase parental fees, beyond the post-Easter timescale given by the Minister in relation to an announcement on interim support for providers and parents, and it is beyond time for action on childcare costs from the Minister.”