Green Party NI Deputy Leader Lesley Veronica has said that the Spring Budget means that Northern Ireland families will fall further behind on access to quality and affordable childcare.
Lesley Veronica said: "Northern Ireland already lags well behind other UK regions on childcare support, with parents guaranteed just 12.5 hours per week for the pre-school year only.
"Meanwhile, childcare costs are rocketing, and the real world consequences are parents, predominately women, prevented from working or who go to work, but spend a huge salary share on childcare bills.
"The question therefore remains, where is our long promised Early Learning and Childcare Strategy? And, where is the 22.5 hours of funded pre-school for all children that then Education Minister Michelle McIlveen promised in September 2022?
"This is another clear example of the failure of political delivery here in Northern Ireland. Childcare is a vital part of our economic infrastructure and improved access to affordable childcare has been identified as a policy that can reduce income inequality.
"It's well beyond time that the DUP and all Executive parties get their acts together, restore devolved government and show leadership on the issues that matter most to people in their everyday lives.
“In the meantime I urge all parents to make sure they are receiving the financial support they are entitled to with their registered childcare costs. Most working parents are entitled to support through one of a number of schemes – Employers For Childcare’s Family Benefits Advice Service can help them work out what is best for them. You can call their Freephone helpline on 0800 028 3008 for free, personalised advice.”