Durkan promises to increase free childcare provision if returned in strength with SDLP colleagues

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SDLP candidate for Foyle Mark. H. Durkan has promised his party will prioritise helping families in Derry and throughout the North by increasing the provision of free childcare to 20 hours per week if elected in strength tomorrow.

Mr. Durkan said the SDLP had pressed the outgoing Executive to do more for families but that it didn’t increase childcare provision.

Families in England get 30 hours of free childcare – more than double than is provided in Northern Ireland.

Mr Durkan said: “These shocking figures will ring true with many families in Derry and throughout the North who find themselves facing ever-increasing costs for childcare. Families are forced to pay eye-watering sums of money every week and it’s clear that it is a struggle for some. Too often, women find themselves caught in a Catch-22 scenario where they make decisions about their work due to calculations on the costs of childcare, rather than what’s best for them and their child. In this day and age it’s unacceptable that some women still face barriers to work.

“The DUP and Sinn Féin have wasted £500million on their dodgy wooden pellets, but somehow weren’t able to find money to help hard-pressed families. It’s shocking that our families get the smallest amount of help with childcare costs - with even the Tories helping families more than the DUP and Sinn Fein. That just shows their priorities are totally skewed and they’re not interested in delivering for voters.

“Improving childcare provision is a no-brainer. If parents receive a bit more help, they have more options and are more able to work. No one should feel boxed into a corner due to lack of childcare.

“It’s about time that families got a break. That’s why the SDLP is committed to boosting childcare options, by increasing the number of free hours available to 20 hours within the first year of being in Government, and getting it up to 30 hours as soon as we can. The SDLP is serious about delivering real change for families in Derry and throughout the North.”