59% of families in Northern Ireland currently have no savings. That is unacceptable and we'll change it.
We will provide more free childcare to parents who are working or in training or education
The SDLP believes that increasing free childcare provision is of the utmost importance to families in Northern Ireland.
That is why we will increase pre-school childcare provision from 12.5 hours per week to 20 hours per week in our first year, with a view to further increasing it to 30 hours once the new budget is agreed.
We will also safeguard existing funding for childcare through the childcare strategy and ensure that this fund is fully utilised.
As well as reducing the direct cost of childcare to families, this removes a key barrier for those seeking work or training and benefits the entire economy.
A Strong Start
We will provide every child born in Northern Ireland with an investment in their future
There are children across Northern Ireland who live in homes with no savings or assets. For many, from the day they are born, the system is rigged against equality.
The SDLP’s ‘Strong Start Fund’ will see £250 provided to every child born in Northern Ireland as a starting contribution to a junior tax free savings account. This will be topped up at aged 10 with a further £250 and we will explore an option for a third top-up at age 16.
At age 16 children take direct responsibility for their own account and can access funds at age 18.
The ‘Strong Start Fund’ will allow parents, grand- parents and other family and friends to contribute.
The ‘Strong Start Fund’ means an end to the situation where children live in households with no savings. It also means financial stability for every child as they face the move to adulthood.
The ‘Strong Start Fund’ will be accompanied by an increased focus in the school curriculum on savings and finance.