Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Children Robert Troy says the Government has missed an opportunity to ease the burden on working families. He has responded to the publication of Budget 2015, which is devoid of measures to make childcare more affordable.
Deputy Troy commented, “This Budget does absolutely nothing for the tens of thousands of families across the country who are forking out thousands of euro in crèche and pre-school fees every year. These are people who have already been hit by cuts to child benefit, taxes on maternity benefit and changes to the Lone Parents Allowance. In fact, the lack of support from the Government on the childcare issue, is acting as a barrier for many parents to get back into the workplace, and runs contrary to the Minister Burton’s own claims that the Government is actively encouraging people to return to work.
“I’m appalled by the meagre €5 euro increase in Child Benefit announced this afternoon. Last year, the payment was slashed by €10 so effectively parents are still €5 worse off than when this Government came into power. This €5 allowance will do little to alleviate the high childcare costs that families are facing, and the token measure is bordering on insulting.
“Minister Reilly has made no provision for funding for the Early Years Strategy in this Budget. The programme, which was announced two years ago, has effectively stalled. It is extremely disappointing that yet another Minister has decided to starve the strategy of funding, which will no doubt see its implementation pushed further down the road.
“Today’s Budget does not bode well for a sector that has had no strategic plan since 2010, has the second highest cost of childcare in Europe and has no national inclusion policy for children with special education needs.
“Just as he failed to deliver for our health services, Minister James Reilly is failing to deliver for children’s services. The Budget allocation announced for the Child and Family Agency for next year is simply inadequate.
“Minister Reilly has allocated a budget of €635m for Tusla in 2015, which is an increase €26m on last year, however the agency overspent by €25m this year and its CEO Gordon Jeyes has stated that it requires an additional €45m next year just to stand still. He also advised that a further €60m would be required to fill vacant posts and finance essential new developments. Before the year even begins, the agency will be forced into the red.
“It is bitterly disappointing but not surprising that this discredited Minister has again let down the services for which he is responsible”.