Belfast Telegraph

Crippling cost of childcare: Survey highlights financial sacrifices being made to meet rising bills

BY AMANDA FERGUSON

Northern Ireland families are struggling to meet the rising costs of childcare, a new report reveals.

A survey of more than 4,000 parents by Lisburn-based charity Employers For Childcare indicates for a family with two children in full-time childcare the costs can be £16,432 per year.

The average full-time childcare place now costs £158 per week, a £2 increase on last year's figure.

As the Employers For Childcare Charitable Group launches it 2013 Childcare Cost Survey Report today at Stormont it says the new statistics paint a "gloomy picture".

The report reveals 63% of parents struggle with their childcare costs either throughout the year or at some point during it, with 46% of parents saying the costs led them to reduce working hours.

Others admit the rising cost of childcare and other bills result in them resorting to credit cards to pay for food.

Key findings include:

  • 78% of single parent families struggled with childcare costs compared to 62% of two parent families.
  • 44% of the average net weekly earnings are allocated to childcare costs for one child in Northern Ireland.
  • Childminding costs increased by 2.5% since 2012's survey, from £157 to £161 per week for a full-time place. Childminding costs have increased steadily since 2010.
  • As with last year's survey, the highest average full-time childcare costs are in Co Antrim and Co Down. The lowest costs are in Co Tyrone and Co Fermanagh.

Marie Marin, chief executive officer at the 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."

Belfast mother-of-three, Anne-Louise Thompson, says the problems facing the "silent poor" should not be ignored.

"There is very little help for the silent poor who work full-time and don't qualify for any benefits but have to pay for everything," she said.

CASE STUDY

Gillian Anderson (29) is a crematorium administrator from east Belfast. She said: "My daughter Ellie (right) is nearly two-and-a-half. Whenever she was going to nursery it cost about £495.00 every month.

"That's around 50% of my wages. Now she is going to playgroup. It costs £7 for the morning, that's from 9am to 12pm. Then she goes to the childminder in the afternoon, and that's £18 from midday until around 5.30pm when we pick her up after finishing work."

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