Unite Registered Childminders seek meeting with Education Minister Peter Weir over inadequate support payments

Department of Education’s enhanced financial package amounts to a mere £150 a month in July and August when Covid-19 restrictions impact operations

Susan Fitzgerald, Unite regional coordinating officer

Susan Fitzgerald, Unite Regional Coordinating Officer, challenged the Northern Ireland Executive on the inadequacy of supports provided to Registered Childminders at a time when pandemic restrictions are impacting revenues of operators across the sector. She confirmed that her union’s Registered Childminders branch was seeking urgent meetings with both Ministers for Education and Finance to discuss the situation.

“Registered Childminders and childcare workers continue to provide a vital service to working parents but do so under severe restrictions over the numbers of children and the number of households that they can accept children from. These restrictions are resulting in a sharp reduction in the income of childminders and there’s a particular need for government financial support to sustain the livelihoods of these self-employed workers.

“Unite the union is the collective representative body for Registered Childminders. Our Registered Childminders’ branch wrote to Minister Peter Weir weeks ago to request a meeting to discuss our concerns and suggest a system of financial compensation based on the actual reductions in enrolment incurred. Unfortunately, this request was rejected and instead the Department of Education has brought forward a financial package amounting to a bare £150 per month for July and August – when restrictions will apply.

“This payment is entirely inadequate. It risks leaving Registered Childminders facing a sharp reduction in income and also a squeeze on their household living standards. It is likely to lead to the collapse of childminders leaving gaps in provision for working parents.

“Unite is supporting the call by NICMA – the Childminders Association – that if support payments are to be based on a flat-rate then it should be raised to at least £500 a month. We have written to the Minister to request he meet a delegation of Registered Childminders to hear first-hand their experiences and concerns”, Ms Fitzgerald concluded.

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