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Breakthrough for childcare in Budget 2017

Published: Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) welcomes the announcement of a comprehensive childcare package as part of Budget 2017 as a significant change of direction that has the potential to have a huge positive impact on women’s equality if further funding will be provided.

Orla O’Connor, Director of NWCI said,

“The proposed package is a breakthrough for the provision of childcare in this country. After almost two decades of campaigning by NWCI and other advocacy groups, the Government is finally acknowledging its responsibility to tackle the enormous affordability crisis in childcare. The childcare package is the first step to developing a publicly subsidised universal childcare model, similar to the models available in many other European countries.”

“The provision of childcare is the most important public service in order to increase women’s participation in employment and civic life. This applies to women across all income groups as they are the most likely to drop out of employment when they have children. We therefore particularly welcome the start of a universal payment that will be available to parents in all income groups. While funding is still very limited at this point, the scheme has the potential to have an enormous positive impact on women’s equality if further funding is provided.”

“We also welcome that payments will be made directly to the service providers as a measure to increase quality and avoid that providers will simply increase costs.”

In relation to the second part of the scheme that will be more targeted towards lower income families, Orla O’Connor said,

“The fact that the means tested part of the scheme will cater for children up to 15 years is very positive as it recognises the need to provide childcare outside of school hours. This scheme will be particularly beneficial for lone parents, the majority of whom are women, and who are often on very low incomes.“

Orla O’Connor concluded,

“While we believe the new approach to childcare provision is right, we are calling on the Government to significantly increase funding for it. The Government is trying to do the impossible by thinking it can provide both, comprehensive public services such as childcare, while implementing a regressive tax system that includes cuts to the USC for higher income earners or changes to the inheritance tax. All countries that have comprehensive childcare provision in Europe have a much more progressive tax system. It will also be important to closely link investment in childcare with the further development of paid family leave. While the introduction of paternity leave is a very welcome first step, parents should be able to avail of at least six months additional paid leave that would allow parents to care for their child during the first year at home.”

NWCI will be issuing a more detailed analysis of the Budget from a women’s equality perspective tomorrow.

For more information, please contact Sarah Clarkin, NWCI, Tel.  085 861 9087 or Silke Paasche, NWCI, Tel. 085 858 9104, silkep@nwci.ie