Chambers hits out at childcare costs

Castlebar Electoral Area candidate, Lisa Chambers, has demanded increased support for working families to help them to deal with spiralling childcare costs. The 2011 General Election candidate said: “Unless the issue of childcare costs is addressed, particularly for lower income families, we will see a much greater number of children being cared for through private arrangements. But private childcare is totally unregulated, with no qualifications needed, no inspections, and no specific standards required. We need to ensure that crèches and pre-schools, which are regulated, are affordable options for more families.”

Referring to figures released in the recent past, Ms Chambers said: “A report by Indecon examining the cost of childcare in Ireland shows that a quarter of Irish parents have been prevented from returning to work or training due to prohibitive childcare costs. The figures show that childcare costs account for about 29 per cent of net income for a couple, and almost 50 per cent of net income for lone parents. This is much higher than the EU average of 9.8 per cent and nine per cent respectively for couples and lone parents.”

The amount of money being spent on childcare compared to other bills is something that has to be tackled according to the Fianna Fáil candidate. “Ireland has the second highest childcare costs in the OECD when taken as a percentage of wages. The cost of childcare can exceed mortgage payments as the largest monthly bill for families with young children. The financial pressure involved in childcare means that thousands of working parents, particularly mothers, face a stark choice of quitting work due to the high cost of childcare, or continuing their careers while losing money. We all know that many households have less money at this time.”

Chambers concluded: “As a first step, we are asking the Government to take the 35,000 lower-income families who are on the Family Income Supplement (FIS ) and give them a tax break to help ease the burden of childcare. In the longer term, we need a radical overhaul of childcare provision in this country to make it much more affordable for working families.”

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