Budget must address high childcare costs
Reacting to the latest ESRI report on Ireland’s high childcare costs, Labour spokesperson on Children and Youth Affairs, Seán Sherlock, called for the Government to address the issue n the Budget. Deputy Sherlock said:
“Over three years into this FG-Independent Government, childcare costs remain exceptionally high. The Government must address this in the upcoming Budget with an increase in the universal subsidy.
“It won’t come as a surprise to the thousands of parents across Ireland struggling with high childcare costs that Ireland ranks among the worst in Europe for its record on childcare supports.
“The figures show that nearly eight in ten people here are struggling to afford childcare, with Ireland having the fourth highest level of unmet need for the service.
“Unaffordable childcare not only puts major strain on parents, with many having to rely on grandparents if they’re lucky, or childminders- often unregulated because they’re cheaper- but also acts as a barrier to entry for many women from the workforce. In some cases it’s simply not worth their while returning to work due to the high cost of childcare, accentuating the gender pay and pensions gaps.
“High costs are a particular issue for parents of babies and toddlers who don’t yet qualify for the ECCE scheme- that’s if they can get a creche space at all. Along with sky high rents, the whole situation creates a perfect storm for so many struggling parents around Ireland.
“It’s now three years since Early Childhood Ireland warned of a sustainability crisis in the childcare sector, and three years since this Government took office.
“But despite much fanfare around various action plans unveiled over the last few years, the Government has failed to actually deliver an affordable, high quality childcare system.
“A high-quality system also depends on top class, highly trained and professional staff who are paid a decent living. If we are going to attract and retain quality childcare workers, Budget 2020 must allow for staff to be paid at least the Living Wage of €12.30 an hour.
“This October, Minister Zappone will be given a fourth chance to do more than pay just lip service to delivering on childcare. The children and parents of Ireland deserve it. The Budget must deliver.”