Scotland and Wales investing in children and childcare support
Scotland and Wales have used their devolved powers to introduce new developments to support children and families. Employers For Childcare welcomes these positive changes in terms of the vital difference they will make to families.
In June 2019, the Scottish National Party (SNP) announced it will use social security powers to introduce a new benefit to tackle child poverty in Scotland. The Scottish Child Payment will be introduced by 2022 for all eligible families with children under 16 with a payment of £10 per week. This is in addition to the current Child Benefit.
The Scottish Government estimates that over a third of all children in Scotland could be eligible and the payments could lift 30,000 children out of relative poverty by 2024. The Child Poverty Action Group called the new payment “an absolute game changer” in the fight to end poverty.
In February 2019, the Welsh Government announced that it will invest £60 million across childcare settings in Wales to provide 30 hours of free childcare per week for three and four year olds. It was recently confirmed that an additional capital funding package of £7.7 million has been released to enable providers to access the necessary funds for building adaptations and refurbishment works. This funding will provide more opportunities for providers to create wraparound provision, extend capacity of places and enhance premises for more provision.
To support the delivery of the 30 hour childcare commitment, the Welsh Government also introduced 100% rates relief to all registered childcare providers in April 2019.
What’s happening in Northern Ireland?
While other regions of the UK continue to make progress in the areas of childcare and family policy, it is clear that Northern Ireland is falling further behind.
Our recently published 10th Annual Northern Ireland Childcare Survey 2019 highlighted a call from parents and childcare providers for greater investment in the childcare sector. They also stressed the urgent need for a Childcare Strategy.
In the context of ongoing political talks and particularly within the Programme for Government working group, Employers For Childcare understands that childcare is a priority. We would welcome a commitment to provide parents with additional support to access quality childcare, and greater investment to ensure the sustainability of childcare providers. This would meet a number of the Government’s objectives including supporting the early development of children and enabling parents to access and stay in work.