• This claim is supported by evidence gathered by Employers for Childcare (EfC).
  • An EfC survey of childcare providers carried out in March found that 56% of respondents had already raised fees this year, while another 17% planned to do so in the following three months.
  • This represents a higher than expected proportion of fee increases, based on previous research. EfC’s last annual childcare survey – published in December – found that 44% of providers expected to raise prices in 2024.

On 9 April in a statement about childcare costs delivered to the Northern Ireland Assembly, Alliance MLA Kate Nicholl said:

“73% of providers have either increased their fees to parents since the start of 2024, or plan to do so before the end of June.”

This claim is supported by evidence.

Ms Nicholl said this was a finding based on findings made by childcare organisation Employers for Childcare – and research from that organisation does support this claim.

A survey of providers carried out in March found that 56% of respondents had raised fees since the new year and another 17% planned to do so in the subsequent three months – indicating that 73% of providers have either put up prices or plan to do so before the end of June.

Based on this, the claim is accurate.

  • Details

Ms Nicholl told the Assembly that this information came from an Employers for Childcare (EfC) survey. When we contacted the Alliance MLA she reiterated this and pointed us towards some relevant research.

EfC carried out a snap survey of childcare providers between 12 and 17 March and published key findings a week after that period.

Based on 721 responses, the organisation’s polling found that 56% of providers had already increased fees since the beginning of 2024 and another 17% planned to do so in the following three months.

A total of 721 responses represents a significant chunk of all childcare providers in Northern Ireland. The Department of Health’s Children’s Social Care Statistics for Northern Ireland 2022/23 report says that there were 3,397 registered providers of daycare in Northern Ireland. Family Support NI’s database – maintained by the Department of Health – has an opt-in searchable list of registered childcare providers, currently shows 3,937 providers of different types.

EfC told FactCheckNI that they send surveys to all registered childcare providers in Northern Ireland, and then monitor responses in terms of geographical spread and nature of provision (childminders, group settings, and so on) – with the organisation adding that this ensures it is confident in the statistical robustness of its work.

Based on all that, the evidence supports the claim.

  • Wider context

As well as situational research, such as the polling outlined above, EfC publishes an annual Northern Ireland Childcare Survey looking at various aspects of the local childcare sector (although they skipped one year, 2022, during the pandemic), including challenges facing both parents and providers, as well as ongoing levels of statutory support.

The most recent annual report was published on 5 December last year. It found that 44% of providers were anticipating an increase to their fees in 2024.

This means that, based on the findings of the March 2024 snap poll, a higher proportion of providers raised fees in the first three months of this year than had expected to do so over the entire calendar year.