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Working parents spend €1,700 more on childcare now than five years ago

  • Cost spirals for families in capital

  • Bills across rest of country up €770

  • 'Cost of care for our two boys will be more than we pay on mortgage' - says one family


Expense: Siobhan and Brian Redmond and their children Christopher (2) and Pearse (3 months). Photo: Caroline Quinn

Expense: Siobhan and Brian Redmond and their children Christopher (2) and Pearse (3 months). Photo: Caroline Quinn

Spending on childcare rose faster in the capital. Stock Image

Spending on childcare rose faster in the capital. Stock Image


Expense: Siobhan and Brian Redmond and their children Christopher (2) and Pearse (3 months). Photo: Caroline Quinn

The average family's annual spend on childcare rose by more than €1,700 in Dublin in the past five years.

It also jumped by €770 a year outside the capital, according to official figures.

New data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) lays bare the spiralling financial burden on working parents around the country since the crash as costs soared among the highest in Europe.

The figures compiled from the latest household budget surveys reveal the extent to which spending on childcare has risen faster in the capital than the rest of the country.

On average, a Dublin household with children up to the age of 14 was spending 36pc more than it had been five years earlier by 2016.

Mother Siobhan Redmond told Independent.ie that she will soon be paying more than her monthly mortgage for childcare for her two children.

Ms Redmond, from Killester, Dublin, believes the Government should further assist families and the childcare industry in tandem to create a well-run system for all.

The 35-year-old financial professional is currently on maternity leave after giving birth to her three-month-old son Pearse.

In August next year, Pearse will join older brother Christopher, aged two-and-a-half, in childcare when Ms Redmond returns to work.

"Full-time childcare is €850 for one," Ms Redmond said.

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"As far as we know, that will be doubled next year when Pearse goes into childcare.

"That's more than our monthly mortgage payments, despite subsidies. It's a costly figure.

"Where my two children will be in childcare is cheap compared to friends, who are paying up to €1,300 a month in southside Dublin.

"Such expense is putting some parents off having a third child.

"The financial costs of childcare are just too high."

Ms Redmond and her husband Brian, who runs Redmond Electrical in East Wall, Dublin, have acknowledged that due to the cost of childcare, they will have to cut spending.

However, Ms Redmond feels those who work in childcare should be paid well for the "important job of looking after the most precious people in our lives, our children".

Meanwhile, outside the capital, householders were forking out an extra 20pc.

The rise in spending was likely to have been driven by higher childcare costs, but it may also reflect the fact that parents needed more childcare as employment and working hours grew during the recovery.

A CSO spokesperson said the average size of families remained roughly the same - so this is unlikely to have pushed up spending.

The average weekly spend was €95.07 in Dublin between 2009 and 2010. But this had jumped to €129.37 during the survey in 2015 and 2016 - a hike of €34.30 a week, or €1,783 a year.

Outside Dublin, families who had been spending €74.21 a week in 2010 had increased their expenditure to €89.02 by 2016. They shouldered an increase of €14.81 a week, or €770 a year.

This meant the average Dublin family was footing a €6,727 a year bill two years ago. Their spend had been less than €5,000 a year five years earlier.

This compared with an average annual spend of €4,629 outside the capital by 2016, according to the comparison of the budget surveys.

The figures include spending on childminding outside the home and after-school care but not au pairs or Montessoris.

Unlike other CSO data that shows a higher average spend but only covers children up to 12, the household budget survey figures include spending on all children up to 14.

Children's Minister Katherine Zappone and the representative body for 3,800 childcare providers, Early Childhood Ireland, blame decades of underinvestment by successive governments for high childcare costs.

However, a department spokesman said since the last CSO budget survey, investment had risen by 117pc.

"The measures introduced by Minister Zappone last year have benefited the families of more than 80,000 children and this number continues to grow," he said.

"Supports for families who need support have increased by 50pc in value."

He said next year would see the roll-out of a new Affordable Childcare Scheme.

The thresholds for this new scheme were increased in Budget 2019 and will benefit families with gross family incomes of up to €100,000.

The minister will update Cabinet in the coming weeks on the work being carried out to deliver "one of the most significant start-up projects the State has undertaken for decades", said the spokesman. "A recent OECD report has predicted that the introduction of the scheme will move Ireland from one of the most expensive childcare systems in the world to near the top 10 most affordable for lone parents."|

Director of policy and advocacy with Early Childhood Ireland Frances Byrne said the big gap in the cost of childcare inside Dublin and outside was down to much higher building costs, leases, expenses and commercial rates.

"Due to the lack of investment over many years, salaries are low and contracts are often part-time in nature," she said.

"The result is that skilled professionals are leaving the sector.

"Despite increased investment in the past two years under Minister Zappone's leadership, childcare providers are still struggling to recruit and retain qualified, experienced educators, with low pay a significant factor."

Ms Byrne added that figures from the OECD show we invest only 0.2pc of GDP in early years care and education each year.

"This is the lowest amount of any EU country," she said.

A CSO spokesperson said the figures give a good indication of spending habits but there have been some changes in methodology since the 2009/10 survey.

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