Budget: Families say 25% reduction in creche fees is not enough 

Budget: Families say 25% reduction in creche fees is not enough 

The measure is due to come into effect from January. The average saving for qualifying families will be €1,200 per child per year.

The reduction of up to 25% of creche fees does not go far enough to help families, it has been claimed.

In announcing his package in the budget, Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath said a reduction of up to 25% per week for families availing of the National Childcare Scheme will be a €121m investment by the government.

He added: “This measure will put up to €175 a month or €2,106 a year, back in the pockets of parents next year.” 

The measure is due to come into effect from January. The average saving for qualifying families will be €1,200 per child per year.

However, Limerick mother Rachael Fagan Bermingham says the measure does nothing for families like hers who are using private childminder.

“We are paying €1,200 per month on childcare for our two girls. One is three and the other is one. We will not see a penny of that 25% reduction.” 

She says the focus needs to be on providing more creche places, adding that her family could not secure places in Limerick for her daughters.

She adds: “I know the Government is trying but it is not enough.” 

Childhood Services Ireland director, Darragh Whelan, called the investment of €121 million “a good start and something we called for in our Pre-Budget Submission”.

But he emphasised it is only a start: “There is a long way to go for the childcare sector. All of our members are still being hammered by inflation and are unable to raise fees. We need continued investment in the sector to ensure affordability for parents, fairness for staff and sustainability for providers. One of the biggest issues is availability of childcare places and we would encourage the Government to make it more attractive for childcare providers to open more services.’’ 

Early Childhood Ireland CEO Teresa Heeney said there needs to be a national communications plan to promote the new scheme to parents.

“Neither parents nor operators can afford to work from one budget to the next. We hope to see further details from the Minister for Children and we will be reinforcing to him the need for a long-term investment plan with new funding targets which will move Ireland to Nordic levels of investment.” 

Mr McGrath also announced an allocation of €59m to the recently established Core Funding model which, he said, will provide for extra hours and enhanced capacity in the sector.

The Core Funding model aims to improve affordability of childcare for parents by preventing fees from increasing, according to the Department of Children.

Mr McGrath added: “Under the new Employment Regulation Order, those working in the childcare sector will see improved pay and conditions to better reflect the importance of the work they undertake in providing quality care for our children. In 2023, the childcare Budget will reach €1 billion - five years ahead of target. Alongside the measures announced last year, this finding will help to make childcare more affordable, improve the wages of staff and help ensure the sustainability for childcare providers.”

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