Why this middle-income mum-of-two is not happy with Budget's 'Affordable Childcare Scheme'
Mum-of-two Melanie Finn tells why she feels she got nothing from Budget
Forgive me if I'm not popping the champagne corks on reading the finer details of the new Single Affordable Childcare Scheme.
As a working mum of two children under four, whose husband also works full-time, there is little comfort in Budget 2017 for our family when it comes to meeting the monthly childcare bill of €1,300 in addition to all the other household bills.
While last year was hailed as a 'giveaway Budget' for young families, this year the middle-income earners appear to have been largely ignored as the Government continue to allow the us to struggle financially.
Given I work a four-day week and every second weekend, we don't have our children in crèche for the required 40 hours a week. So we don't qualify for the subsidy, which is also means-tested.
And we're not alone - only 27pc of Irish parents have their under-3s in full-time childcare, while 31pc use a child-minder.
A further 42pc rely on grandparents to mind their little darlings. But there's also little in the Budget to support relatives caring for children at home and the invaluable service they provide for struggling parents.
While I do welcome the fact that our eldest son, Rian (3), is currently availing of the Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme, it provides only 15 hours a week and we have to cover the rest of the hours by using paid childcare.
I know so many mums who would love to go back to work after having babies - but are prevented from doing so due to the extortionate childcare costs.
This Government finally had a chance to tackle the spiralling childcare crisis and provide genuine support for working families still scrambling to recover from the devastating effects of the recession.
But instead they opted to bring in a convoluted, Tulsa-approved scheme that looks great on paper but, on closer inspection, will have little real impact on middle-income earners.
The only definite gain for us in the Budget is the 0.5pc being lopped off the dreaded Universal Social Charge, which, let's not forget, was originally brought in to bail out the banks.
This Budget has fallen far short of my expectations - and for thousands of working families like ours, it promised much but delivered very little.