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Too little for childcare in a socially divisive budget!

Published: Tuesday, December 05, 2000

'Under Charlie McCreevy, Ireland becomes more divided than ever. In an era of unprecedented prosperity, the Minister chose to reward the rich and neglect the most vulnerable in Irish society' declared Ms. Grainne Healy, Chairwoman of the National Women's Council of Ireland (NWCI).

'In the key area of childcare supports, the NWCI welcomes the fact that the Government has listened to the voices of women in its decision to adopt a universal approach to supporting their childcare costs. However, the size of the payment, the three-year strategy and the delayed introduction until June give cause for great concern' she continued. 'At a time when childcare costs are spiralling for all parents, when women are consistently struggling to meet the real costs of caring for their children, payments of £25 and £30 pounds per month are not sufficient to cover childcare and to eliminate child poverty. The NWCI is seriously concerned at the Minister's proposal that the rate of further increase in Child Benefit would be fixed at £25 and £30 over the next two years. The NWCI intends to push Government to move far more quickly on the actual rate of support than that planned in the three year strategy outlined in Budget 2001' added Ms. Healy.

She went on to say that the NWCI welcomed the measures introduced for older people in this Budget. 'The government has made significant progress in recognising the contribution of older women through the increases in the Qualified Adult Payment of Pensions. The extension of the medical card to all those over 70 years will also ease the burden of health costs for older people' stated Ms. Healy.

'The Minister has not achieved his own objective in Budget 2001 of promoting a fairer society through the taxation and social welfare measures introduced today. A person earning £35K will benefit four times more than the worker earning the minimum wage. The poor increases for those reliant on social welfare payments in comparison to the give-away budget for those on higher incomes reinforces the reality that Ireland is now a two-tier society, in which people are categorised into deserving and undeserving' concluded Ms. Healy.