Paschal Donohoe to consider proposal for 'granny grant' in budget

Paschal Donohoe to consider proposal for 'granny grant' in budget
File image.

Update 3.47pm: An organisation supporting stay-at-home parents has criticised proposals that would see grandparents paid for looking after their grandchildren.

The Independent Alliance raised the issue with the Finance Minister in a pre-budget meeting yesterday.

Pascal Donohoe says there are big questions to be answered around the suggestion.

Pauline O'Reilly of the Stay at Home Parents Association says a direct payment to families would provide parents with a choice around childcare options.

Ms O'Reilly said: "If you look at a model like Finland where creches are heavily subsidised, but also if a family decides not to se3nd their child to a creche, they will get a subsidy directly to their family.

"And they can use that to either forego a salary themselves, which is a very expensive option, to stay at home and care for their children, or to use it for grandparents or for another relative as a childminder."

12.10pm: Paschal Donohoe to consider proposal for 'granny grant' in budget

The Finance Minister says he will consider proposals for a childcare payment for grandparents in the budget.

Paschal Donohoe to consider proposal for 'granny grant' in budget

The Independent Alliance submitted the idea in its pre-budget plan yesterday.

The self-assessed payment would be available to all grandparents who help out with childcare for more than 10 hours a week.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohue says this idea has been floated before.

He said: "The Independent Alliance shared this idea with me yesterday, they have done so on other budgets. I think it is fair to say there are really big questions in relation to this proposal that would need to be answered but first and foremost, I need to work with Minister Zappone in relation to childcare policy.

Fianna Fáil's Seanad Spokesperson on Justice, Children and Youth Affairs has dismissed the proposal.

Lorraine Clifford-Lee said that "a grant to grandparents caring for grandchildren won’t address the crisis in Ireland’s childcare sector" and has described it as "mere immature kite flying."

Lorraine Clifford-Lee.
Lorraine Clifford-Lee.

She said: "This so-called 'Grandparent and Grandchild Expenses Reimbursement Scheme' is a rather pathetic attempt to resolve Ireland's ongoing crisis in childcare provision.

Rather than put forward a well-thought-out policy to increase the availability of affordable childcare, the Independent Alliance has thrown out what can only be described as an insult to the hundreds of thousands of parents and grandparents who are caring for children.

“An annual payment of €1,000 will give the princely sum of €19.20 per week to grandparents; hardly an appropriate recognition of the sacrifice and dedication involved in caring for children.

“Neither will it in any way reduce childcare costs for struggling families, who are burdened with astronomical childcare costs, often thousands of euro each month.

“The shortage of childcare places has become a major issue in many parts of Ireland, my own included. Parents across the country are already being told that they cannot avail of their child's ECCE entitlement, owing to the lack of spaces in crèches.

“This proposal would do absolutely nothing to address this deficit.

Relying on grandparents who have likely worked all of their lives to sort out childcare is a last resort for parents and adds stress to family relationships.

"Families in Ireland deserve a well-funded childcare sector that is easily accessible and affordable for all,” she concluded.

Earlier: Grandparents who look after their grandchildren could be in line for €1,000 annual payment

Grandparents who help mind their grandchildren could be in line for a €1,000 annual payment under new budget proposals.

The Independent Alliance called for the 'Grandparent and Grandchild Reimbursement Scheme' in their pre-budget meeting with Finance Minister, Paschal Donohoe.

The self-assessed payment would be available to all grandparents who help out with childcare for more than 10 hours a week.

Applications for the grant would be made through the Department of Social Protection.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe.
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe.

Paschal Donohoe says there are 'big questions' to be answered and that the plan would also need to consider other family members and friends who also help out with childcare.

He said:

"If you think of all the other members of family, and friends, who also perform duties looking after young children and do so on a voluntary basis, I think they would be asking me in particular - what about them?"

Reacting to the proposal of a 'Granny Grant,' Pauline O'Reilly spokesperson for Stay-At-Home Parents Association said:

All families are struggling and deserve support regardless of their childcare choice. We would support amending this proposal to bring parents who care for children at home into the net.

"Families where a parent stays at home to care for children pay as much if not more in childcare costs as those who use creches. This is because they forgo a salary as well as paying higher taxes.

"What families really want is flexibility and therefore to receive the subsidy directly themselves. They are best placed to make the choice as to who cares for their children.

Speaking about the costs, she added: "A family where one person earns €50,000 can pay €4000 more in tax than a family where two parents jointly earn €50,000 This is on top of the reality that families with a parent at home lose a salary, which makes the decision to care for children at home extremely difficult".

- Digital Desk

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