Parents quitting jobs because of cost of childcare

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More than 45 per cent of parents in Northern Ireland have reduced their working hours or left their job because of the high cost of childcare.

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The survey found 50 per cent of women have reduced their working hours or left their job because of the high cost of childcare

According to the Northern Ireland Childcare Costs 2013 survey by charity Employers for Childcare, 50 per cent of women and 40 per cent of men have either cut the number of hours they work or left employment all together.

The survey, which provides information on childcare costs across Northern Ireland and considers parents’ experiences of using and paying for childcare, shows that the cost of a full-time childcare place is now £158 a week, a £2 increase on last year.

The average cost for a family in Northern Ireland with two children in full daycare is now £16,432 per year.

Childminder fees have risen by 2.5 per cent since 2012 from £157 to £161, while the costs of a nursery place, the most popular form of childcare, have marginally fallen.

The cost of breakfast clubs have also increased by £31 week since 2012 to an average of £84 per week.

While full-time childcare places in Northern Ireland continue to be cheaper than in England, part-time places cost on average £14 more per week.

A part-time childcare place (25 hours per week) in Northern Ireland costs on average £117 per week, compared to £101 per week in England.

A lack of flexible childcare was also an issue raised by the 4,396 parents surveyed.

More than 85 per cent of parents using a nursery, 49 per cent using a childminder and 90 per cent using an out-of-school club said that their setting was not flexible.

To combat this and reduce childcare costs, more than 45 per cent of respondents reported using informal childcare provided by grandparents.

Marie Marin, chief executive of Employers For Childcare charitable group, said, ‘The high cost of childcare can be crippling for families. In order to manage the high cost parents are making financial sacrifices and changing their employment patterns. Parents have noted that making these changes can have a number of negative outcomes for families; putting additional strain on the wider family, impacting heavily on family finances and causing long-term career damage. It begs the question does it pay to work?’