Northern Ireland Childcare Cost Survey 2018

For two thirds of families in Northern Ireland the childcare bill is their largest or second largest monthly outgoing. This startling figure was revealed in Employers For Childcare’s 9th Annual Northern Ireland Childcare Cost Survey Report which shows that, after housing, the childcare bill continues to exceed groceries, heating, transport and other household costs.

The report concludes that enhanced and strategic investment in financial support for childcare is key to helping childcare providers to deliver quality provision, and ensure that this is affordable for families.

Some key findings are as follows:

  • The average cost of a full-time (f/t) childcare place in Northern Ireland is £166 per week, a slight drop on last year’s figure of £168 (£171 per week for a day nursery / £165 per week for a childminder).
  • County Armagh continues to report the highest average cost of a full-time childcare place – £179 per week, whilst County Fermanagh experiences the lowest average full-time childcare costs of £148 per week.
  • County Fermanagh is where the highest proportion (83%) of parents believe there is insufficient childcare provision in their area whilst just over half (54%) of parents living in County Antrim believe there is insufficient childcare provision in their area.
  • 67% of childcare providers who responded to the Survey reported an increase in expenditure, yet only 19% increased their fees in the past year, with many reporting that they have absorbed increasing overheads, rather than passing them on to parents.  This is not sustainable for childcare providers in the longer term, which will in turn further impact on families.

While the average cost of a full-time childcare place has dropped slightly, the ability to afford and access childcare is still a significant issue for thousands of families, with over half of the parents who responded to the Survey stating they have had to cut back or go without to meet their childcare bill.

Each family’s experience depends on a range of factors including the type of provider they use, with the change overall largely driven by a decrease in the average cost of a childminder place, while the average cost of a day nursery place has increased. Parents are telling us they believe the quality of childcare they receive is excellent, with many calling for childcare professionals to be better remunerated and recognised for the valuable role they play in shaping the next generation.

The research has also revealed a strong call from parents to bring financial support for childcare in Northern Ireland in line with England where eligible families can receive 30 hours of free childcare for three to four-year olds.

Download the full report or read the highlights, which can be found in the Executive Summary (above right).

The Northern Ireland Childcare Cost Survey has been conducted since 2010 to explore the cost of childcare and how this impacts on parents. It is the most extensive study of its kind in Northern Ireland and is used widely to inform political debates, policy development in relation to the affordability of childcare, and service delivery. The 2018 Survey received more than 2,200 responses from parents and childcare providers.