Childcare fees should be made fully tax deductible in the upcoming budget, according to just more than a third of people surveyed on the issue of childcare costs.
Only 6 per cent of 2,000 taxpayers taking part in the pre-budget survey by tax advisers, Taxback, felt it was not the Government’s job to get involved in addressing rising costs in the sector.
Childcare is, alongside mortgage costs, the biggest expense facing young families, many of whom are having to make hard decisions on career choices just to manage their budgets.
The Government accepted earlier this year in a Dáil debate that the average cost of childcare ranges from €800 to €1,350 per month per child, and inflation is likely to have pushed those figures higher since then.
A quarter of respondents argued that the best approach to alleviate financial strain on parents is to extend the existing early childcare and education scheme which provides three hours a day of free preschool care five days a week for 38 weeks a year for two years.
A separate National Childcare Scheme pays a €1.40 an hour subsidy for up to 45 hours a week to parents of children between six months and 15 years of age whose children are being cared for by a Tusla-registered childminder.
The subsidy is not means tested although a parallel means-tested scheme is available for parents with family income of less than €60,000 a year.
The support for a funding boost for these schemes comes three days into a nationwide strike by childcare providers, protesting over low-pay, inadequate Government funding and excessive regulation in the sector.
Just over one in eight (13 per cent) called for the introduction of a cap on childcare costs, along the lines of the limits on increases chargeable on rent in rent pressure zones across the State. A further 11 per cent said legislation should be brought in to force employers to provide more childcare services at or through work.
The final 11 per cent polled support increased Government funding for the childcare sector.
Marian Ryan, consumer tax manager at Taxback, said the survey results show the support among the general public for policy change to make childcare more affordable and accessible.
“The vast majority of respondents support Government intervention to ease the ongoing financial burden of childcare, with the most popular choice being the introduction of full tax relief for parents,” she said.