Saturday 29 April 2017

State maternity leave bill triples in five years

Louise McBride

Louise McBride

THE baby boom hasn't just led to an abundance of boys among toddlers today -- it's also putting a strain on the State's coffers.

The Government is coughing up almost three times more to cover maternity pay than it did five years ago. Last year, taxpayers gave €327m to mothers on maternity leave -- but in 2004 the bill was only €122.7m, according to the Department of Social and Family Affairs (DSFA).

With record unemployment keeping more men at home, it's perhaps no surprise we are being overrun with applications for maternity pay. In 2004, when unemployment was about a third of what it is now, 34,503 women applied for maternity pay, compared to 48,435 in 2009.

In 2008 -- the year Ireland officially dipped into recession -- 50,451 women applied for maternity pay. That same year witnessed the highest number of births since 1896 with over 75,000 babies born.

A spokeswoman for the DSFA said that increases in the female population and the national birth rate had led to a "significant increase in expenditure on the maternity scheme".

Sunday Independent

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