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Coronavirus: Warning that people who lost job during pandemic may not return for childcare reasons


Stock photo: PA

Stock photo: PA

Stock photo: PA

A SENIOR government official has warned that people who lost jobs in the coronavirus crisis may not return to work for childcare reasons.

Robert Watt, the boss of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) said that the childcare situation could mean that even if jobs are available, they may not be taken up by some parents.

There is concern that childcare capacity will be reduced when creches reopen due to the coronavirus crisis.

The government intend for schools to fully reopen at the end of August but plans are still being prepared for this to happen.

Mr Watt made the remarks at the Dáil's Special Committee on Covid-19 Response which was also told that 400,000 people could still be unemployed by the end of the year.

Aontú TD Peadar Tóibín asked Mr Watt about the damage that's been done to the economy, predictions the deficit could be as high as €30bn, and an unemployment rate he said currently stands at 26pc. He asked about Department forecasts of deficit and growth in the coming years.

DPER secretary general Mr Watt said the Department of Finance has said the deficit could be €23bn but may be more due to uncertainty over how quickly the economy can recover from the impact of the Covid-19 crisis.

He predicted a "significant deficit" this year and next. He said what happens in 2022 depends on how the economy evolves and decisions the next government will take on spending and income taxes.

How quickly people return to work depends on how fast the economy recovers he added.

Mr Tóibín said one variable could be the reopening of schools and whether there will be a 100pc return or "far less than that".

Mr Watt said there's been a "very significant hit to employment".

"The Department of Finance believes that by the end of the year that we’ll have unemployment down to around 10pc... that's about 400,000 people which is 200,000 more than the start of the year."

He said this is "subject to enormous uncertainty".

Mr Watt said there's a possibility: "you’ll have a hit to labour supply because people may not want to go back because of the whole situation with childcare or with other responsibilities they have."

He said: "There’s a possibility that even if jobs become available that because of the childcare situation people will not take up those opportunities."

Online Editors