Joint inquiry into Northern Ireland’s welfare policy

Employers For Childcare has published its submission to the joint inquiry into Northern Ireland’s welfare policy. The inquiry is exploring how welfare policy is supporting people in Northern Ireland and is also looking at the operation of Universal Credit.

Our submission was informed by our work with individuals, particularly parents and families, who are affected by changes to welfare policies in Northern Ireland. We raised several concerns around welfare reform and highlighted how the introduction of Universal Credit has had a negative impact on some families in Northern Ireland. We highlighted particular issues relating to how the childcare element of Universal Credit is paid, how this creates difficulties for both parents and childcare providers, and general operational concerns.

The system has been widely criticised for its requirement for childcare costs to be paid upfront and any support then reimbursed. This policy can leave households waiting weeks, even months, to receive support they are entitled to with the cost of childcare. Households on Universal Credit may already be in a precarious financial position, which managing upfront childcare costs could exacerbate. We provided case studies to show how this policy can act as a barrier to work.

Employers For Childcare is part of the Cliff Edge NI coalition, comprised of groups from across the voluntary and community sector , which is campaigning for the extension of welfare reform mitigations in Northern Ireland beyond March 2020. In addition to our own response to this inquiry, we endorse the evidence provided by the Cliff Edge NI coalition.

For further information on the inquiry please click here.