Northern Ireland parents pay 45% of income on childcare costs
Parents in Northern Ireland are hit harder for childcare costs than their counterparts in the rest of the UK, according to research.
The average spend in Northern Ireland for childcare is 45% of parents' income, compared to 33% of parents' income in Britain.
The survey by Save the Children and Daycare Trust found that families on low incomes across the UK are having to turn down jobs or are considering leaving work because they can't afford to pay for childcare.
One mother from Carrickfergus, Co Antrim said: "Affordable childcare is so hard to come by.
"There would be no point in me working if I had to pay for private nursery or a childminder.
"There is not enough help for working parents."
Another mother from Newtownabbey said: "I'm a single mum trying to do the right thing and work, pay my mortgage, but during the school holidays my childcare is £450 per week. I have to find £200 per week, and I only earn £626 per month - where is the sense in working?"
Save the Children has called on the Northern Ireland Executive to do more to increase childcare provision locally.
Fergus Cooper, from Save the Children in Northern Ireland, said: "Save the Children wants to see a new childcare strategy with appropriate levels of funding in the new Programme for Government.
"This needs to work across departments to tackle historical under-provision and needs to be especially targeted and resourced to support families living in poverty to access training and employment and should be accessible across Northern Ireland."
Mr Cooper described how child poverty is increasing in Northern Ireland while falling elsewhere in the UK.
"In 2009/10 it fell by at least 1% in Britain whereas it rose 2% here to 26%," he said.
"Furthermore, more than one in every five children is growing up in a family that has been in poverty for three or more years and a shocking one in 10 children are living in severe poverty."
The survey has added to mounting criticism of the soaring cost of childcare.
Last week a report by the Aviva insurance group revealed that parents could be better off staying at home as the cost of childcare is making it too expensive to remain working. It claimed that, rather than being better off, some working mothers could be financially worse off by almost £100 a month.