Families' childcare costs in capital rose €1,800 in five years - report

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

Anne-Marie Walsh

The average Dublin family's annual childcare spending has risen by almost €1,800 in the space of just five years.

The yearly cost for families outside the capital jumped by €770 in the same period, according to official figures.

Data from the Central Statistics Office highlights the spiralling financial burden on working parents around the country since the 2008 crash.

Costs have soared to rank among the highest in Europe.

Figures compiled from the latest household budget surveys reveal the extent that 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 in 2016 than it had been five years earlier.

Outside the capital, families were forking out an extra 20pc.


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

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

The average weekly spend on childcare was €95 in Dublin between 2009 and 2010.

But this had jumped to €129 during the survey in 2015 and 2016 - a hike of €34 a week, or €1,783 a year.

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

Outside Dublin, families who had been spending €74 a week in 2010 had increased their expenditure to €89 by 2016.

The increase works out at €770 a year, taking the annual spend to €4,629 in 2016.

The figures include spending on childcare outside the home and after-school care but not au pairs or Montessori schools.

Children and Youth Affairs Minister Katherine Zappone and the childcare providers' body Early Childhood Ireland both blame decades of underinvestment by successive governments for the high childcare costs.

However, a Department of Children and Youth Affairs spokesman said since the last CSO budget survey, investment has 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."

The spokesman added that next year will see the introduction 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.

"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," said the spokesman.

Frances Byrne, director of policy and advocacy with Early Childhood Ireland, said the big gap in the cost of childcare both inside and outside of Dublin 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 under Minister Zappone's leadership, childcare providers are still struggling to recruit and retain qualified, experienced educators, with low pay a significant factor."