• Childcare

    Childcare Cost Among Highest in EU

    For the many parents who attempt to juggle both work and family commitments in Ireland, a significant hurdle that needs to be overcome is access to quality, affordable childcare.
    According to the OECD, the average cost of childcare across its’ member countries is equivalent to 12% of a family’s income – if only this were true in the Irish context where average cost of childcare represents a massive 35% of a family’s income .Even for higher earners, the percentage is 24% – still double the OECD average. As a percentage of wages, net childcare costs in Ireland are the highest in the EU.
    Childcare costs can represent the equivalent of a second mortgage for families and can make it uneconomic for both parents to work. And where does that leave those on low incomes or single parent families for whom the relative cost of childcare is even higher – 40% of average income for a single parent on an average income? This is particularly pertinent in Ireland where over 25% of all families with children are one-parent families, with 87% of them headed by women.
    Clearly these high costs represent a natural barrier/deterrent for those parents seeking to leave the live register and re-enter employment.
    Last year, as part of the European Commission’s analysis of the Irish economy and the structural challenges which must be addressed if Ireland’s economic recovery is to be sustained, access to affordable childcare was identified as a priority issue, in particular for women and for low income families.
    6 months ago the Commission published it’s ‘Country Report on Ireland’ and again made the point that the “limited availability and high cost of childcare remains a significant barrier to increased female labour market participation”. [Women’s employment rate at 61% remains 10% lower than men’s.]
    The report concluded that “No progress was made in improving access to more affordable and full-time childcare”.
    This contributes to Ireland having one of the highest proportions of people living in households with low work intensity in the EU, increasing the risk of social exclusion and child poverty.
    A recent survey carried out by a national newspaper shows that it costs up to €1,150 a month for a creche place for a baby. And for both a baby and toddler the cost can rise as high as €2,035 per month.
    But to meet that monthly expense for two children a mother would need to earn €30,000 a year – which after tax would leave her with €2,071 a month, or virtually nothing once the childcare costs were paid.
    The average price of a creche place in the survey was €888 for a baby and €1,596 for two children – so you’d need to earn €22,000 a year just to break even on work, as that salary leaves you with just €1,611 a month after tax.
    And despite stagnant wages, parents have also been hit with rises in childcare costs in the last year, with Central Statistic Office figures showing a 2.4pc increase.
    A recent survey found 63pc were struggling to meet their childcare costs while 84pc of stay-at-home mothers wanted to work in some capacity but felt trapped by childcare costs.
    Childcare providers also have huge overheads and costs to meet. Most qualified childcare workers are just earning the minimum wage and are finding it hard to make ends meet.
    This is a huge issue for parents, childcare providers and society in general and one that has failed to be tackled by previous and present governments.

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