Sunday 17 December 2017

Childcare tax credit will drive up costs - Reilly

James Reilly. Photo: Steve Humphreys
James Reilly. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Former Children's Minister James Reilly has warned against the introduction of any "tax breaks" in next month's Budget aimed at reducing the burden of childcare on parents.

Dr Reilly said from his experience, tax breaks will only result in childcare costs being ramped up.

The issue of how the Budget should assist working parents has been a major bone of contention.

Fianna Fáil favours the introduction of a €2,000 tax credit, while Children's Minister Katherine Zappone is pushing for a new affordable childcare scheme that will pay a portion of a family's bill directly to a childcare provider.

Some Fine Gael TDs, including Wexford's Michael D'Arcy, have said they favour the Budget being used to boost the Free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE).

At present, the scheme provides for three free hours per day.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Dr Reilly said he agreed with targeting the money at ECCE and criticised Fianna Fáil's proposal for tax breaks.

"The money should go towards the provision of services like the ECCE programme, and not tax breaks like some parties are proposing," the Fine Gael deputy leader said.

"We don't have unlimited funds and extending the day would be hugely helpful for parents.

"The problem with tax breaks is we have no real control. They only risk driving up the cost of childcare, rather than reduce it," he added.

Talks between Ms Zappone and her Fine Gael colleagues are due to continue this week.

Irish Independent

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