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Sinn Féin wants to reduce cost of childcare for all, despite attack on universal measures

Party to propose additional €270m investment to subsidise childcare

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Sinn Féin's Children's spokesperson Kathleen Funchion

Sinn Féin's Children's spokesperson Kathleen Funchion

Sinn Féin's Children's spokesperson Kathleen Funchion

Sinn Féin wants to cut childcare costs by two thirds for all parents in a universal measure, despite the party often criticising government policies that are not targeted.

The party previously criticised government policies which were not aimed at helping the poorest families, such as the universal €200 electricity credit.

In a cost-of-living Dáil motion at the end of June, the party’s finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty said the Government should focus on “targeted measures”.

However, today the party will launch universal proposals for the State to heavily subsidise childcare for all families through an additional €270m investment over two years.

This would bring investment in childcare to more than €1bn when including the Government’s €870m investment already in place.

The 60pc reduction in fees would be conducted through a scheme where the Government would take on the cost of staff wages from providers, in exchange for the providers cutting fees by two-thirds.

Sinn Féin says it would also put in place “decent pay scales” for staff in the sector, with the aim of bringing back creche operators who have left the industry in recent years over poor pay.

This would lead to an increase in creche places for children, the party says.

According to one example prepared by the party, a couple living in Dublin with a combined income of €65,000 per year and with an 18-month-old child in full-time creche would save €6,639 per year.

Sinn Féin says this would be paid through a solidarity tax of 3pc on people earning more than €140,000.

This measure alone would fund the 60pc cut in childcare costs for the entire country, it says.

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Despite the proposed cuts benefitting even the highest income earners, the party believes those on higher incomes would make a bigger contribution through the solidarity tax, which would fund improvements to other public services.

The party would also invest €1m in the Childminding Advisory Service and appoint an extra 15 childminding officers across the country.

Sinn Féin’s childcare policies will be launched today by party leader Mary Lou McDonald, along with TDs Kathleen Funchion and Pearse Doherty.

“Childcare fees in Ireland are some of the highest in the EU,” Ms Funchion said.

“For many families they amount to another mortgage or rent each and every month.

"Many parents, especially women, are forced out of the workforce as they simply cannot afford to go back to work due to these crippling costs.

“The Government has failed to act on these spiralling fees and they are at crisis point.”

She added: "It’s time to act now to cut childcare fees and ensure families get a much-needed break from these unaffordable costs.”

Senior government figures have already signalled that cutting childcare costs will be a big priority in September’s Budget.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said these costs will be cut “very significantly”.

Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman is overseeing the proposals, having frozen childcare fees last year and vowing to increase funding in the National Childcare Scheme.


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