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28 April 2015

Question Time: Office of the First and deputy First Minister - Monday 27 April 2015


Patsy McGlone asked the First Minister, Peter Robinson, what more their Department can do to introduce affordably and flexible childcare during today’s questions to the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister. Mr Robinson revealed that he would like to give an overview of what his Department has already done. " The first phase of the Executive's childcare strategy was launched back in September 2013. It included a number of key first actions to address the main childcare needs that had been identified through research and consultation.

School-age childcare was the greatest area of need identified. The school-age childcare grant scheme, which we launched just over a year ago, was developed to create new high-quality school-age childcare places and sustain the places we already have. To date, the grant scheme has allocated £2 million to 50 successful school-age childcare projects. Those projects will sustain or create approximately 1,500 low-cost quality childcare places.

We expect to grant aid further school-age childcare projects before the summer and launch a third call for applications to the grant scheme in the autumn. This will result in further low-cost childcare places being created or sustained".

Junior Minister, Jonathan Bell, also discussed the sexual orientation strategy and confirmed that " work will continue over the coming weeks to develop outcomes and subsequent indicators with the project team. Once the draft strategy is finalised, it will be referred to the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister for consideration, before seeking Executive agreement. A further 12-week period of consultation will then take place, and I anticipate that the sexual orientation strategy will be published after that final phase of consultation".

The First Minister was asked during the 15 minute period of Topical Questions about homophobic remarks made by DUP representatives in the last number of years, for an update on the implementation of the Stormont House Agreement and whether the First Minister believes that the outcome of the Westminister election will have any implications for the Executive's Programme for Government.