SDLP Social Justice spokesperson Mark H Durkan has welcomed the introduction of upfront childcare costs for Universal Credit claimants and those on low incomes, helping to remove barriers for parents seeking employment.
While a welcome and necessary provision, Mr Durkan said it falls short of SDLP proposal calling for access to 30-hours free childcare for all parents.
Said the Foyle MLA: “Childcare costs remain the biggest barrier for parents, predominantly mothers, returning to employment.
“I am pleased that amendments have now been implemented which will cover 85% of upfront childcare costs for claimants of Universal Credit and those on those on low incomes.
“The provision is made in the form of a non-repayable grant of up to £1500 paid in advance to a registered childcare provider.
“The move follows a high court ruling that the requirement to pay childcare costs upfront before reclaiming them through Universal Credit, indirectly discriminated against women.
“In doing so, I hope this will remove the financial burden on already struggling families, encourage more people to return to employment and provide further support for claimants in the wake of the pandemic.
“Childcare costs account for a significant percentage of parent’s wages, regardless of their income.
“People shouldn’t have to choose between a fulfilling career and caring for their child but for many this predicament is very much a reality.
“Fundamentally, this is an issue of workers’ right.
“This provision, while welcome, falls short of the SDLP proposal for 30-hours free universal childcare. A similar provision has been made available in other jurisdictions for all working families.
“This would undoubtedly ease the burden of childcare costs, which in turn would transform our economy, create new jobs and provide parents with the opportunity to return to work.
“We will continue to make the case for a childcare provision which provides support for all working parents and in doing so, I hope will create a fairer society.”Tags: