Parents group criticises pre-school proposal

Group says plan to divert child benefit amounts to robbing Peter to pay Paul

Ministers have backed a proposal to create extra pre-school places using part of the child benefit budget. Photograph: Frank Miller

Ministers have backed a proposal to create extra pre-school places using part of the child benefit budget. Photograph: Frank Miller

Thu, May 9, 2013, 14:28

A parents’ organisation has criticised a proposal which would see the Government using part its child benefit budget to fund an extra year of State-sponsored pre-school.

Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn has given his “full support” to the idea of using part of the €2 billion child benefit budget to fund a second year of pre-school.

This morning Parents Against Cuts to Child Benefit said the proposal amounted to “robbing Peter to pay Paul” and called on the Government to “invest more in our future taxpayers”.

“We can only hope that this is kite flying to generate a reaction,” the group said in a statement.

It added: “While we would like to see an extra pre-school year, as we do need to do more for our children, this should not lead to other children receiving less child benefit.

“We would also like to remind Minister Quinn that this will not ease the burden of high childcare cost for many parents but could see them struggling more with fees as many children will not be eligible for the free year.”

The Government spent €175 million last year on the free pre-school programme, which is currently supporting about 68,000 pupils.

Speaking at a conference yesterday Mr Quinn said, “If we could get two years as distinct from one it would really have the potential to transform the learning outcomes and the educational outcomes of a whole cohort of young people.”