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'Granny grant' proposal faces a list of challenges, warns Donohoe

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Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe. Picture: Collins

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe. Picture: Collins

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe. Picture: Collins

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has appeared to pour cold water on a proposed 'granny grant' payment to family members who provide free childcare.

However, he did not make any references to alternatives to the scheme or outline any of the measures being considered to tackle the childcare costs.

The grant, proposed by Independent Alliance Minister Shane Ross, seeks to give a payment of €1,000 to grandparents, uncles, aunts or siblings who provide at least 10 hours of free childcare to family members.

While it has received some support among the general public, it has faced criticism from politicians for being unworkable and for having limited potential to affect the sizeable childcare bills faced by working families.

Now, with just five weeks to go before Budget 2019 is finalised, the Finance and Public Expenditure Minister has said there are "challenges" with the proposal.

"There are a number of challenges in relation to how something like this could be implemented, how it could be verified, who would receive it, what would be the impact on other people who provide childcare but who are not paid for it.

"More broadly, the thrust of childcare policy as led by Minister [Katherine] Zappone has been to recognise, of course, the hugely important role of family members in providing childcare but to look at how we can provide subvention directly to professional childcare providers in return for increasing the quality of it and eventually, I believe, seeing the price of it beginning to stabilise and go down," he told RTÉ's 'Today with Sean O'Rourke' show.

He said that he will engage with the Independent Alliance on the issue.

He will also be listening to Ms Zappone in relation to childcare policy. Ms Zappone has previously distanced herself from the idea.

The threat of Brexit needs to be considered when calculating public spending, Mr Donohoe also said.

The focus is to be on capital expenditure but the Government is being careful with current expenditure to safeguard the economy.

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