Northern Ireland left even further behind on childcare, says Egan, after announcement of Spring Budget

Alliance Education Spokesperson Connie Egan MLA has expressed frustration that parents, guardians and children in Northern Ireland are being left even further behind in terms of childcare costs and provision, following the announcement of the Chancellor’s Spring Budget.

Education Connie Egan

Within his statement, the Chancellor announced a number of new measures intended to reduce childcare costs and alleviate the burden felt by families in trying to access services in England. This includes extending the 30 hours of free childcare scheme to 1 and 2 year olds, among other policies.
The North Down MLA said, “Aside from some welcome changes to how childcare support is paid through Universal Credit, this will not apply to parents and guardians in Northern Ireland, who do not even benefit from the basic provision already available in England, Scotland and Wales.
“Parents, childcare providers, and early years stakeholders across NI are becoming increasingly frustrated with the lack of both a Childcare Strategy and an Executive to implement it.
“A Childcare Strategy is now decades overdue but without a minister in place taking decisive action, we only stand to fall behind even further, and let more people slip between the cracks.
“We know that 44% of parents in Northern Ireland have difficulties accessing or affording necessary childcare, impacting their ability to work. This has only been exacerbated by the cost of living crisis, meaning that now more than ever, we are in dire need of affordable childcare.
“Alliance believes that affordable childcare is key economic infrastructure and that we urgently need a restored Executive to prioritise and fund a Childcare Strategy.”