Launch of the seventh annual NI Childcare Cost Survey
Parents reach for payday loans to cover costs
A quarter of Northern Ireland parents are turning to family and friends and many are reaching for high interest payday loans just to cover the costs of childcare, a new survey shows.
Employers For Childcare’s seventh annual Childcare Cost Survey reveals that almost two thirds of parents struggled to meet their childcare bill either throughout the year or at some point during it.
The weekly cost of full-time childcare now costs on average £168 per week, or £8,736 per year.
Employers For Childcare Chief Executive Marie Marin says, “The trend in rising childcare costs will have an impact on the economy as people are forced out of their jobs as childcare makes work financially unviable. A third of parents now tell us that their childcare bill is their largest monthly outgoing. This is a worrying sign at a time when other economic factors are keeping wages down.
“In addition, the new Tax-Free Childcare scheme is still not widely acknowledged by families, and this will have major implications on their finances,” says Ms Marin.
The 2016 Childcare Cost Survey is based on responses from 6,059 Northern Ireland parents. The survey seeks to track the cost of childcare in Northern Ireland and the impact rising costs have on families.
“The cost of childcare impacts heavily on work, half of the respondents reduced their working hours or left work altogether because of childcare costs,” says Ms Marin.
“But the impact on families goes further. 81% of all informal childcare used by parents in the survey was provided by grandparents,” she says. “The role grandparents play in supporting parents to work is crucial for families but can be detrimental to their own circumstances, physically, mentally, socially and financially.”
On the brighter side, 98% of parents said they were happy with the quality of the care provided, although much more provision is needed particularly in areas including Fermanagh and Tyrone. 36% of parents said it was difficult or very difficult to access affordable childcare and 47% said it was difficult or very difficult to access flexible childcare.
Employers For Childcare says information gaps still exist and that only 31% of parents were aware of the new Tax-Free Childcare scheme to be introduced in 2017.
The Government plans to introduce a Tax-Free Childcare scheme to help parents with the cost of childcare. Despite the scheme being introduced early next year 69% of parents were unaware of it and only 15% of the parents who knew about the plans for this scheme had a good understanding of how it works, due to lack of promotion.
“It is abundantly clear that childcare is a social and economic issue which needs to be tackled urgently,” Marie Marin says.
You can download the full report or a summary of the key findings.
Get in touch for more information or telephone 0800 028 3008.