Northern Ireland

Belfast parents to protest against 'crippling' childcare costs today

Parents in Belfast will be protesting against childcare costs today during the March of the Mummies event.
Parents in Belfast will be protesting against childcare costs today during the March of the Mummies event. Parents in Belfast will be protesting against childcare costs today during the March of the Mummies event.

PARENTS in Belfast will be protesting against the cost of the "crippling" cost of childcare today for the March of the Mummies event.

Organised by the charity Pregnant Then Screwed, the event at Belfast City Hall is part of a UK wide protest with an estimated 12,000 people taking part.

Demands include good quality and affordable childcare for all children, ring-fenced and properly paid parental leave as well as flexible working by default.

Backing the event is the Alliance MLA and former Lord Mayor of Belfast, Kate Nicholl.

“The cost of childcare is crippling, and it’s one of the issues that is raised with me time and time again," she said.

"People are worried about the costs. Parents and carers - primarily women - are reducing their hours or are being forced out of the labour market altogether, all of which will have a prolonged negative impact on the social, emotional, and educational development of our children."

Recent figures from Employers for Childcare show that over 40% of the workforce in Northern Ireland are parents with dependent children.

It's estimated that full-time childcare costs between £8,500 to £15,000, and a third of families claim childcare costs even more than their mortgage or rent.

Ms Nicholl added: “We urgently need a robust childcare strategy which would ensure people receive what they deserve - affordable, flexible, high-quality childcare which pays practitioners good wages and gives every child the best start in life. We need to stop seeing this issue as an individual family problem, but as key economic infrastructure which when properly invested in creates better educational, health, social and economic outcomes.

“Childcare should not cost more than your mortgage, and it should never be a reason why people don’t return to work, or why parents choose not to have another longed-for child.”

The March of the Mummies event meets at Belfast City Hall today at 9.45am.