Shane Ross defends ‘novel’ plan for €1,000 ‘granny grant’

Minister says he has not experienced any ‘pushback’ over proposed budget measure

Minister for Transport Shane Ross has rejected criticism of his proposal that grandparents who help with childcare should receive a €1,000 annual payment. Photograph: Alan Betson

Minister for Transport Shane Ross has rejected criticism of his proposal that grandparents who help with childcare should receive a €1,000 annual payment. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Minister for Transport Shane Ross has defended his proposal for a so-called “granny grant”, a €1,000 payment to grandparents who carry out childminding duties.

The Dublin Rathdown TD, a member of the Independent Alliance, described the proposal as “novel” and said it would be “welcome for a large number of people”.

The idea was tabled by the alliance in preliminary budget discussions with Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe, but has been criticised by childcare groups and privately by some of Mr Ross’s Government colleagues.

The Department of Children, where Independent TD Katherine Zappone is minister, has poured cold water over the notion of grandparents who help with childcare receiving a €1,000 annual payment.

“The Minister is firmly focused on childcare and increasing investment as she has done in the last two budgets,” a spokesman for Ms Zappone said. “What’s suggested does not fall within her remit.”

However, Mr Ross yesterday insisted he had not seen any “pushback” at all on his proposal.

‘Pursue’

“I haven’t seen any pushback at all but what we are going to do is pursue this as an idea, a novel idea and we are going to continue to push for it,” he told reporters. “It is an idea which I think recognises the role grandparents have played in childminding and it is not something that I have noticed any big pushback at all on.

“There are lots of questions being asked. What we did was we brought this as a preliminary idea and we gave it to Paschal Donohoe. It is something that can be adapted, of course it can. But at the moment, as an idea, as a concept, I think it is very novel and I think it would be very welcome for a large number of people.”

He also denied it had been “rejected” by Mr Donohoe previously.

“We put it in very, very late and it was too late last year because it was quite a complicated scheme and they wanted time to consider it. It wasn’t rejected at all,” he said.

“We want to thrash it out with them, the detail of it with them, see what’s possible, what’s feasible, the complications, the implications for other payments as well. It has got to be costed in tandem with other childcare payments.”

When asked if it would be a “red line” for him in the budget talks, Mr Ross said: “We don’t talk in terms of red line issues, I think that is unhelpful when you are negotiating a budget.”