Northern Ireland Childcare Cost Survey 2017

Childcare is a Barrier to Work

Our 8th Annual Childcare Cost Survey reveals that the average cost of a full-time childcare place in Northern Ireland is £168 per week which is equivalent to almost 40 per cent of average household income [1].

The report captures the views and experiences of 4,800 parents across Northern Ireland and highlights how they believe access to childcare is acting as a barrier to work. In almost a third (30%) of households, the childcare bill is more than the mortgage or rent, and 46% of parents report they have had to go without or cut back in order to meet childcare costs. For some this means cutting back on heating their homes, going without quality, fresh food, and skipping meals to meet their monthly childcare bill. Worryingly, 33% of parents, up from 25% last year, have used means such as savings, credit cards, loans or gifts from family and friends, and even payday loans to cover the cost.

Factors other than cost that working parents struggle with include: lack of out of school and wraparound services; lack of provision in rural areas; restricted and inflexible opening hours; and limited provision for children with specific needs.

Despite this, the overwhelming majority (87%) of parents are positive about the quality of childcare provision. They recognise the valuable experience their children receive and the important role childcare staff play in their children’s lives.

Employers For Childcare has been conducting the Northern Ireland Childcare Cost Survey since 2010 to explore the cost of childcare and how this impacts on parents in Northern Ireland. It is the most extensive study of its kind in Northern Ireland, and is widely used to inform political debates, policy development in relation to the affordability of childcare, and service delivery.

Download the full report or highlights of the key findings can be found in the Executive Summary.

[1] ‘Households below average income Northern Ireland’, Department of Communities 2015/16 – the average (median) income before housing costs in NI increased by 4% to £436 per week in 2015/16. These were the most up to date figures at time of writing.