Five key asks for politicians – General Election 2017
With a General Election taking place on Thursday 8 June this is an opportunity for parents to make their voices heard at the ballot box on issues that impact on them, their families, the local economy and society as a whole.
Across the UK, childcare has been an issue that is featuring prominently in political manifestos and debate, with the BBC website even running a feature entitled Election 2017: Six alternative ways to fix the childcare problem.
Five key asks
Ahead of the General Election, Employers For Childcare has identified five key asks that we believe must be addressed for the benefit of parents and families, but also for the local labour market and the economy. Politicians from Northern Ireland, whether they are elected as MPs or as MLAs, have a critical role to play.
We want politicians to take these issues seriously and address them if they are elected to office. Make your voice heard and challenge your candidates to do the following:
- Urgently address the problems associated with childcare provision
Access to flexible and affordable childcare is a real concern for parents. In 2016 our annual Childcare Cost Survey highlighted that 63% of parents struggle to meet their childcare bill. Almost half of parents find it difficult to access flexible childcare that meets family needs. Politicians must prioritise childcare as an issue requiring urgent attention. We are currently surveying parents to identify the issues they experience in accessing childcare. To share your views please complete the survey.
- Help to raise awareness of the financial help available to families
Finances are tight and the financial support landscape is changing. It has never been more important that families can access information on the support they are entitled to. Employers For Childcare operates the Family Benefits Advice Service which provides parents with free advice on their entitlements. However, some parents may not be aware that this, and other services, are available.
- Encourage the use of Family Friendly Working Policies
While some employers offer flexibility, others offer little or no support for working parents. Our research highlights that 91% of parents find it difficult to combine work commitments with family responsibilities. Supporting employees achieve work-life balance can increase productivity, motivation and loyalty.
- Support the growth of Social Enterprise
In England, a Social Value Act requires public bodies to consider how the services they buy will improve economic, social and environmental wellbeing – not just because they are the cheapest! In Northern Ireland, around £3 billion is spent each year purchasing public services and, rather than considering social and economic impact, tenders are awarded on price. This is an ineffective use of public money. We would call on MPs to lend their voices to ensuring the January 2017 commitment to introduce a local Social Value Bill is followed through.
- Tackle economic inactivity
An Economic Inactivity Strategy was launched in April 2015 but not fully implemented. It is meant to tackle Northern Ireland’s high rate of economic inactivity. It includes work with those who are economically inactive due to family commitments. Parents face significant challenges balancing work and family commitments. A lack of affordable, flexible or available childcare should not be a barrier to work. We would urge MPs to seek to address economic inactivity effectively across the UK.
For further information please contact Aoife Hamilton, Policy and Information Manager at Aoife.firstname.lastname@example.org or 028 9267 8200.
Employers For Childcare Manifesto 2017
Employers For Childcare’s Manifesto 2017 sets out the key issues that we believe should be prioritised. It is a tool for us to lobby politicians AND a tool for you to raise issues that matter to you with politicians.
Every year we work with thousands of local parents through our charitable services, from providing advice and information to engaging through surveys and research. Our manifesto draws on what we have learnt about families, from families.