Sunday 25 August 2019

Working parents in Ireland spend a fifth of their income on childcare each month

A survey of the financial burden of childcare across Europe estimates it costs a couple in this country an average of €861 a month from a disposable income of €4,228. Stock Image
A survey of the financial burden of childcare across Europe estimates it costs a couple in this country an average of €861 a month from a disposable income of €4,228. Stock Image
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Working parents in Ireland are shelling out a fifth of their monthly net salary on childcare - four times the proportion paid by families in Sweden.

A survey of the financial burden of childcare across Europe estimates it costs a couple in this country an average of €861 a month from a disposable income of €4,228.

In Sweden the monthly cost of childcare is €201, due to heavy state subsidies. However, in the Netherlands the monthly cost is as high as €1,287, and it takes 28pc of parents' net income. In the UK the monthly cost of childcare is estimated at €1,006, absorbing 25pc of the family's wages.

The research was compiled by the UK company Cuckooz Nest which is involved in integrated crèche facilities. It said that Luxembourg, Greece, Romania, Slovakia, Portugal, Lithuania, Latvia and Hungary also have some of the highest childcare costs as a proportion of the average salary.

Commenting on the childcare costs, Teresa Heeney, CEO of Early Childhood Ireland, said they should start to ease in October when the National Childcare Scheme is due to come into effect.

She said it will include universal subsidies for all families with children under three years old. They are also available to families with children over three years who have not yet qualified for the free preschool programme.

The subsidy is not means tested, and provides 50c per hour towards the cost of a registered childcare place for up to 40 hours per week. There will also be income-assessed subsidies to families with children aged between 24 weeks and 15 years.

This subsidy is means tested and will be calculated based on your individual circumstances.

The rate will vary depending on the family income, child's age and educational stage, and the number of children in your family.

The subsidy can be used towards the cost of a registered childcare place for up to a maximum of 40 hours if a parent is working, studying or training.

Ms Heeney warned there are still difficulties recruiting and retaining childcare staff.

"They are still getting very low wages. That remains an ongoing challenge," she added.

A survey of childcare providers by Early Childhood Ireland found pay and poor working conditions in the sector as being central to a staffing crisis. Some 65pc are finding it difficult to retain staff - an increase of 16pc on 2017.

Irish Independent

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