Northern Ireland Childcare Survey 2019

The cost of a week’s holiday childcare for school aged children has soared by £52 (56%) over the last ten years, and now costs £145 on average. The figures are revealed as Employers For Childcare launches its 10th Annual Northern Ireland Childcare Survey. Further, parents have highlighted difficulties in accessing the childcare they need, with many pointing to a lack of holiday and wraparound childcare.

At the same time, we are hearing from childcare providers that their costs are rising, and many are struggling to be sustainable.

This report is unique in bringing together the views both of families and childcare providers. On their behalf, we are calling for a fundamental overhaul of our existing childcare infrastructure, to place a greater emphasis on supporting parents to access and afford the childcare they need, and ensuring financial support is made directly available to childcare providers. Government needs to listen to these voices, and deliver the necessary investment in a high quality, sustainable childcare system that is affordable for parents to access, and for providers to deliver.

Some key findings from the research are as follows:

  • The average cost of a full-time childcare place in Northern Ireland is £166 per week:
    • £173 per week for a day nursery
    • £165 per week for a childminder
  • 50% of families report spending more than 20% of their income on childcare – this rises to 63% of lone parent households.
  • Over half of parents think there is a lack of sufficient childcare in their area – of these 45% report a lack of holiday scheme provision.
  • 27% of families report an increase in their childcare costs during the school holidays – for families with a child aged 5 or over, this increases to 50%.
  • 41% of families used means other than their income to pay for their childcare, including savings, an overdraft, loans and credit cards.
  • For 34% of families, childcare is their largest monthly outgoing.
  • County Armagh continues to have the highest average cost of a full-time childcare place – £173 per week, whilst County Fermanagh experiences the lowest average full-time childcare costs of £153 per week.
  • 87% of parents think the quality of childcare provision is good or very good.
  • Almost three quarters (73%) of childcare providers reported an increase in their overall expenditure, with just 29% reporting an increase in overall income.

Parents are continuing to struggle to afford childcare, with more than two in five reporting using means other than their income (such as savings, credit cards or payday loans) to cover the cost. In lone parent households, more than half of respondents report using means other than their income to pay for childcare.

This is in a context where childcare providers report that they too are experiencing increased costs and challenges to their own sustainability, with some feeling they have no option but to leave the sector. This is unacceptable and fails to reflect the value of our vital childcare infrastructure.

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

Employers For Childcare has been tracking the cost, affordability and provision of childcare in Northern Ireland through its annual ‘Northern Ireland Childcare Survey’ since 2010. The 2019 survey received 3,121 responses from parents and 512 from childcare providers.