Parents forgo food to pay childcare


Parents struggling to cover childcare costs are leaving other bills unpaid or cutting spending on food so that they can continue to work outside the home, according to the results of a survey published yesterday.

Asked about the impact of childcare costs on other areas of household spending, more than a third of respondents say they cannot afford holidays or buy treats for their children. Some 17 per cent have to cut spending on food to meet the cost and 14 per cent leave other bills unpaid.

One in five parents says it has no impact on other areas of household spending and that they are able to cover the cost in full.

But 22 per cent say they have to work full-time to meet the cost.

Scandinavian model

A total of 1,213 parents took part in the online survey, which was conducted by the children’s charity Barnardos, the National Women’s Council of Ireland, Start Strong, an alliance advocating improved early care and education, and Open, representing lone-parent groups.

They released the findings at a conference they hosted in Dublin, titled Scandinavian Childcare: Making it Happen.

An additional investment of €2 billion a year would be needed to build a Scandinavian-style childcare system in Ireland, the conference was told.

This would include subsidised childcare, the introduction of paternity leave and paid parental leave, a second free pre-school year and development of after-school services.

Currently €1.2 billion, or 0.7 per cent of GDP, is spent on maternity leave, early care and education and after-school services. This needs to be increased to an investment of €3.2 billion a year, or 2 per cent of GDP, if we are to have Scandinavian-style, subsidised childcare and after-school care for all children aged 0-12, according to a document drawn up by the conference organisers.

In outlining the necessary steps to achieve this by 2020, they suggest the money could be found through raising capital gains tax, increasing tax on higher incomes, abolishing tax relief on property and abolishing/standardising various pension reliefs.

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