Monday 23 October 2017

Cuts proposals to fail hissing test

The idea of having children start primary school a year later probably fails the "hissing" test for reducing budget deficits. The amount of political hissing from plucking this particular goose would seem to far outweigh the amounts of money saved.

It would upset parents' plans for childcare and increase the amount they have to pay. There would be fierce hissing from education experts, who will point to the evidence that the earlier children start some kind of formal schooling, the better they do in later life. Indeed, the previous government's plans to provide pre-school education are already in place, so the opposition would have a field day. All this for a saving of €116m over four years.

So perhaps this goose will survive, ruffled but unplucked. The same cannot be said of the education budget in general. This despite the fact that education is the least affected area of public spending in the four-year plan agreed with the emergency lenders. Cash spending will fall by "only" 3pc over the four years, and pay costs can rise by 2pc. This compares with cuts of 8pc to 9pc in health and 14pc on social protection.

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