Foyle MLA and SDLP Jobs and Economy Spokesperson, Sinéad McLaughlin, says expensive childcare for parents "makes no sense to work when almost all of their salary would then be spent on childcare"
Foyle MLA, Sinéad McLaughlin has said that a lack of affordable childcare has left a number of parents in Derry unable to work.
The SDLP Jobs and Economy Spokesperson was speaking following released data by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Their findings showed that the United Kingdom has the third most expensive childcare system in the world with 97 per cent of those surveyed saying that childcare was out with their financial reach.
Mrs McLaughlin said that women and single parents – across Derry and the rest of the north of Ireland – were particularly affected, with the huge cost of childcare making it unviable for many to keep up a full-time job.
Such a predicament has led to many a parent in Derry stuck in a Catch-22 situation whereby finding work and earning a work was restricted due to them not having the means to find affordable childcare.
Mrs McLaughlin said: “The lack of affordable and accessible childcare in the north is stopping many parents from pursuing their careers as it simply makes no sense to work when almost all of their salary would then be spent on childcare.
“Where affordable childcare is available it is often overwhelmed by unprecedented demand.
“This has a huge knock-on effect in both our high unemployment and economic inactivity levels and particularly affects single parents who are left to carry the childcare responsibility on their own, especially if they have no support from family or friends.
“Barriers stopping parents from returning to work also have an impact on our economy, people want to be out earning a living, but are often forced to rely on welfare to get by while caring for their children.
“It also deprives our workforce of important skills, which are particularly needed as we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic.
“These problems are nothing new, the cost of childcare has been spiraling for years, yet we have seen little action to tackle this key issue.
“We need to see a joined-up approach from our Education, Economy and Communities ministers. There are a number of initiatives that could help tackle these issues, from breakfast and after school clubs to greater nursery provision.
“We need to do much more to support parents and other carers, who are nurturing the next generation. Without their work we will all be the poorer – literally.”
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