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Childcare provision is good but there are problems with affordability and sustainability
Last month, Employers for Childcare released their ninth annual NI Childcare Cost Survey. The burden on families is enormous - but providers are also under huge strain. Reform (financial assistance and restructuring) is required.
Quality of life is easy to understand but difficult to pin down
Reform is possible in NI, even without a government. Officials last week published a paper seeking to understand what is meant by “quality of life” – with the ultimate aim of improving the lot of adults and children with disabilities.
Popular input makes better policy
People love the NHS and attempts at reform are often met with public resistance. However, its adaptability has been one of its greatest strengths. The response to the hyponatraemia inquiry highlights this.
Welfare Reform mitigations have problems that could be helped by an Executive
An Audit Office report has highlighted huge Welfare Reform underspend. Several NI organisations say bigger problems are coming. With no Assembly, we are rudderless – but Stormont struggled to deal with this first time round.
How NI relies on Europe for employability schemes
The European Social Fund represents a small amount of EU money – but supports a huge proportion of the schemes in its sector. Westminster’s delay on developing a replacement is worrying.
Helping young people in difficult circumstances is challenging – but organisations are well placed to assist each other
Partnership doesn’t have to mean joint projects – it can just be about regularly sharing ideas. The response of several youth groups brought together by the Urban Villages Initiative shows the value of strategic co-operation.
Happy New Year – we can make a better world, but it won’t make itself
If we continue to chase some short-term economic growth at the expense of inclusive growth we not only make things harder for the majority of people, we are creating growth that will not be sustained.
More Traveller voices should be heard in education
Traveller examination results are not where they should be. This is not an insoluble problem, good work is being done, but we would do well to listen more to the views of the Traveller community.
Human Rights in NI – sleepwalking towards disaster
The Human Rights Commission published its Annual Statement this week. We have plenty of problems, too few solutions, and the problems stemming from our lack of a government only ever grow in number.
Christmas is the busiest time of year for foodbanks
Another Christmas, another busy month for foodbanks. For most people, they are an abstract concept – that’s because most people never have to use them.
The justice system needs to change – like it has many times before
Key principles of our justice system could be bent or broken in cases of sexual violence. Perhaps they need to be – and, really, that’s nothing new.
Public transport is about access – we need to measure it that way
NI’s official annual transport statistics were refined earlier this year. However, from the public perspective, they do not tell us enough.
Education in NI is ready to snap
Schools are saving money by cutting teaching hours - in other words, by providing less education. Urgent change is required.
Justice is expensive
Local legal aid costs are very high. However, reforms in England and Wales highlight real problems of trying to reduce them effectively.