- Childcare costs in Ireland are the highest in the European Union, because we rely on the private market to provide them.
- Tax breaks for childcare only serve to drive up costs, and don’t benefit low-paid or part-time workers.
- Early-years public childcare, funded through taxation, is the fairest and most cost-effective model, reducing out-of-pocket costs for families.
- Public pre-schools to be developed near to or as part of existing primary schools.
The average price, nationwide, of a crèche place is around €888 per month for a baby and €1,596 per month for two children. At those prices, someone on an annual salary of €22,000 would have nothing left after paying tax and childcare costs. In Dublin the average price is higher, coming in at €1,053 for a baby and €1,884 for two children – which would swallow up the lion’s share of a median salary of €28,500. Add to that the €13,000+ a year to rent a one-bed in Dublin, and a €40,000 salary would be entirely eaten up by childcare and housing, with nothing left over.
Inaction on the cost of childcare, combined with inaction on the cost of housing, is effectively grinding many women out of the workforce – something reflected in the fact that 85.6% of women with a husband/partner were in employment in 2013, compared to only 51.7% of women whose youngest child was aged between 4 and 5. (76.2% of men with a youngest between 4 and 5 were in employment.)
Childcare costs in Ireland are so high because we invest minimally in providing childcare services at a State level. The average investment in childcare across the OECD is 0.8% of GDP; in Ireland, it’s a tiny 0.2%. Such public under-investment means it’s largely left up to the private sector to provide childcare services, and up to parents to pay out-of-pocket for these private services. This situation is absolutely untenable – it puts massive pressure on parents, it drives women out of the workforce, and it means many childcare workers are poorly paid. Nobody wins. We have to fight for serious public investment in a public system of childcare; it’s past time to acknowledge the privatised model simply isn’t working.