“The UK government has proposed to close the Childcare Voucher scheme to new entrants in April of this year,” said Alderman Martin, adding: “Lisburn based Employers for Childcare have urged the Government to keep the voucher scheme alongside the new Tax-Free Childcare scheme so that parents have a full set of options to choose from going forward.”
“The unintended consequences could be huge – the cost of childcare for working parents is in many cases by far the largest monthly bill they have to pay and any attempt to limit choice can only increase the burden on already hard-pressed families. It is hard enough for parents struggling with their time and financial commitments whilst raising their children without a popular scheme being taken off the table.
“It only further highlights the fact that childcare costs are only increasing and will continue to be a strain on family budgets. Not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to rely on a family member to help-out and while we have an excellent childcare sector, provision does not come cheap.
“One of the single biggest issues facing families, it is completely unacceptable that the last Executive left this issue languishing, with OFMdFM’s failure to deliver a full childcare strategy – a Strategy Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle consistently campaigned for while on the committee. We need an Executive at Stormont ready to take on these challenges, ready to put the needs of Northern Ireland first and ready to provide lasting solutions to the tough issues facing everyone.
“I am supporting the campaign by Employers for Childcare and urging our MPs to do the same. So far only Lady Hermon and Jim Shannon have signed the Early Day Motion currently before Parliament to keep the voucher scheme in operation alongside the further roll out of the Tax-Free Childcare scheme – what are the others waiting for?”