Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children Robert Troy says new data from the OECD confirms that Ireland’s childcare costs are the highest in the EU and are rapidly spiralling out of control. Research from the OECD has found that average EU childcare costs represent around 12% of a family’s income, while in Ireland those same costs account for 35% of family income levels.

Deputy Troy commented, “This latest research is further evidence of the Government’s abject failure to adequately address escalating childcare costs. Many parents are faced with the option of exiting their career after they have children or going back to work and forfeiting their wages to pay for childcare bills. Women are disproportionately affected because unfortunately the greatest weight of caring responsibilities still falls upon them.

“Over the past four years, parents are seeing more and more of their disposable income being directed towards childcare with many forced to pay the equivalent of a second mortgage on child-minding bills. These costs are reflected in the number of women with children returning to work – the statistics reveal that only 52% of women with children aged 4-5 years old are working, compared to 86% of women without children in the workforce.

“These exorbitant costs are negatively impacting on working mothers, forcing many to manage their working hours to reduce their crèche and childcare bills. This has a knock-on effect for their pay and career progression. The latest figures relating to this issue reveal that the pay gap between men and women in Ireland has widened in recent years, with women earning 14.4 per cent less than men for the same work.

“It is no coincidence that gender inequality has widened under this Government. It has done nothing to support mothers and working families and as a result parents’ ability to afford childcare has completely diminished. The single greatest policy initiative the Government could take to improve Ireland’s gender equality would be to address childcare costs”.