DEPUTY HILDEGARDE NAUGHTON
NAUGHTON WELCOMES THE EMPHASIS ON CHILDCARE IN THE BUDGET
“I very much welcome this budgets emphasis on the cost of the provision of childcare.
We are all familiar with the ever rising cost of having a child cared for outside the home with some estimates indicating that working parents would have to earn up to €30,000 a year just to fund the cost of childcare for two children.
It is also estimated that up to 63% of working parents are struggling to pay childcare costs.
The Government has now moved to tackle this perennial problem by introducing a universal childcare payment. This includes the introduction of a new Single Affordable Childcare Scheme from September, 2017, which will provide both means tested subsidies, based on parental income, for children between 6 months and 15 years and universal subsidies for all children aged 6 months to 3 years.
In addition to the childcare package €86m extra has been provided in respect of the full year costs of the extended Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme.
Some have suggested that a system of tax reliefs would be a more beneficial way of helping to reduce the cost of childcare. However, this would unfairly benefit higher earners and discriminate against stay-at-home parents. Many parents use childminders or relatives to meet their childcare requirements and may not be in a position to obtain receipts, making it impossible for them to establish their entitlement to tax relief.
There is also a widely held expert view that tax reliefs can lead to increased prices and would therefore have the opposite effect of that intended. This is because childcare facilities may merely increase prices. The better way is to introduce the additional free preschool year, which was achieved in the last budget, and the universal subsidies announced today.
Early childhood education has a myriad of benefits, including better, more equitable long-term outcomes for children of divergent economic backgrounds. Moreover, investments in these programs help cultivate a future workforce, secure long-term economic competitiveness, and develop Ireland’s future leaders.”