Increasing childcare costs are often the deciding factor for many parents in the debate about whether or not it pays to work. Many families in Northern Ireland currently spend up to half of their salary on childcare.
Local charity Employers For Childcare launched a petition to highlight the important issue of childcare costs. The petition aims to encourage the government to drive awareness around parents' rights to access either the Childcare Voucher scheme or the childcare element of Working Tax Credit.
Neither tax credits nor Childcare Vouchers come out of the Northern Ireland block grant and currently only 13% of families in Northern Ireland are accessing the financial support they are entitled to.
Kirsty McManus, assistant regional director of CBI NI, said: "Working parents are essential to Northern Ireland business and we cannot afford to be losing out on valuable talent due to lack of awareness of the support available. Thousands of families are currently missing out financially, which ultimately leads to a loss for our local economy."
Employers For Childcare's CEO, Marie Marin, urged parents, employers and politicians to get behind this important issue. She said: "A key part of our message is the millions of pounds that our parents, employers and our local economy are missing out on, all because we need to educate people on the financial assistance that is available with childcare costs. We would urge as many people as possible to support us in bringing this message to Government by signing our petition."