Green MLA demands action on childcare provision

North Down Green Party MLA Steven Agnew has called on the Executive to take the issue of childcare seriously by introducing an integrated childcare strategy covering all aspects of early years with more investment in childcare provision.

Responding to a new survey by Save the Children which shows the cost of childcare is forcing the poorest out of work and into poverty, Mr Agnew is demanding that the Executive respond urgently and decisively.

“We are now in a situation where families with low incomes are forced to leave employment or turn down the offer of work because they can’t afford childcare,” he said.

“We are also seeing parents forced into debt because of high childcare costs and this is unacceptable.

“If we want to boost our economy, we must look after our workers’ needs and affordable childcare for working parents is a necessity.

“On the one hand we are telling families that working is the best way out of poverty and yet there has been a 10 per cent reduction in the childcare element of the Working Tax Credit and there are more changes to the Universal Credit planned.

“Those who can and are able to work need support and the Executive should give priority to the provision and resourcing of affordable and accessible childcare.

“Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK to lack a lead department with responsibility for childcare and this important issue now needs to be brought under the responsibility of one of the main ministerial departments.

“Low income families are increasingly trapped in a spiral of poverty because they literally cannot afford to work.

“We already have 1 in 10 children living in severe poverty and we now need a coherent childcare strategy with appropriate funding working across departments to support families living in poverty.”

 

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