Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has described the results of a Newstalk poll, which shows the cost of childcare has increased by an average of 5.5% across the State, as extremely worrying.

The Sinn Féin TD said it should be a call to action for the Government ahead of the 2019 Budget.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“This poll from Newstalk listeners is another indication of the worrying costs that are facing parents as they try to meet rising childcare costs.  This timely survey of listeners suggests that costs have risen by an average of 5.5% across the State.

“The survey confirms that parents are paying way over the odds, the equivalent of a second mortgage, in childcare costs. This is extremely worrying and should be a call to action for the Government ahead of the 2019 Budget.

“Unfortunately, decades of Government underinvestment in early years’ services have forced many parents into paying astronomical sums for childminding.

“Not only are parents struggling to cover the costs of childcare, but increased administration and costs are leaving many providers in increasingly difficult and challenging situations. Meanwhile many childcare workers’ wages are also well below the living wage and reliant on family income supplement.

“Another clear knock-on effect is that we are seeing more and more parents being forced out of returning to work after a pregnancy because the cost of childcare is so exorbitant.

“Worryingly, one section of Government has led the debate down the path of suggesting a ‘Granny Grant’.

“Shane Ross and his Independent Alliance group seem to be more worried about the next election and gimmicks, than any structured reform of our childcare system in order to bring about a system that is affordable.

“His so-called ‘Granny Grant’ would cost the taxpayer €70 million, and while it might be popular with some grandparents, it will do nothing to structurally reform the current system and the challenges facing parents.”

Crowe continued:

“Sinn Féin has continually highlighted over consecutive Budgets how childcare costs can be brought down through state intervention and investment in early years’ services.

“This will have to involve an increase in the Universal Childcare Subsidy in order to help offset high costs to parents. Based on last year’s figures from the Department of Finance, it would cost €116 million to cut the cost of childcare by half, through an increase of the Universal Childcare Subsidy of €2 per hour.

“We also need to see an increase in Capitation Grants to support providers in delivering quality childcare, the continued upskilling and professionalization of the sector, and we need to see real progress towards a sector-wide pay agreement to ensure that the every childcare worker receives, at the very minimum, a living wage.

“The Newstalk Poll, while not surprising, is timely and should act as a call for action on childcare costs.”