Newry, Mourne and Down Council passes motion calling for investment in childcare

Newry, Mourne and Down Council has passed a motion supporting the call for vital and urgent reform of investment in our childcare sector.

The motion was brought forward by Councillor Laura Devlin (SDLP) who called for Council support to ensure that a restored Executive prioritises legislation for an affordable, accessible and high-quality childcare system in any new Programme for Government.

Employers For Childcare’s 10th Annual Northern Ireland Childcare Survey found that access to childcare is a particular issue for women who have caring responsibilities, and who remain more likely than men to adjust their working patterns by reducing their hours or coming out of the workforce, impacting on their long term career prospects.

These research findings informed the motion, with Councillor Devlin stating “it is completely unacceptable that in 2019, parents, particularly mothers are being forced to choose between caring for a child and fulfilling a career”.

The wording of the motion is as follows:

“This Council acknowledges the Employers For Childcare 10th Annual Childcare Survey which is based on research with over 3,600 parents and childcare providers and is the most extensive study of its kind in Northern Ireland. The report reveals that the average cost of a full-time childcare place in Northern Ireland is £166 per week and that half of all families are spending more than 20% of their overall household income on childcare -a figure that rises to 63% for lone parent households.

Council further notes that three years ago, parties in the Assembly unanimously supported an SDLP proposal to provide 20 hours free universal childcare with a plan for an increase to 30 hours.

This Council supports the call for vital and urgent reform of investment in our childcare sector. This research provides a robust evidence base highlighting why childcare needs to be a key and immediate priority for any re-formed Executive.

This Council resolves to write to all Political Party Leaders to ask them to support 30 hours basic free childcare provision for working parents.”

Newry, Mourne and Down is the latest Council to back a motion calling for greater support for families. We are delighted to see more Councils recognising the importance of addressing issues in childcare and we continue to work with MLAs and colleagues on this vital issue.

The full Northern Ireland Childcare Survey 2019 research report, and Executive Summary, is available to download here.