Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children & Youth Affairs Anne Rabbitte has hit out at Minister Katherine Zappone for excluding thousands of middle income families from the Single Affordable Childcare Scheme.

Despite the fanfare surrounding the PR launch of the Government’s childcare scheme, the reality of the situation is that around 9,000 middle income families will miss out on the subsidy they were initially promised.  Some parents will be forking out up to €194 euro a week for childcare.

Deputy Rabbitte explained, “The Government overlooked the importance of ensuring that all the necessary infrastructure was in place before it announced this new scheme and instead of an online application system, the Department is now forced to rely on the GP visit card and medical card system to deliver the Single Affordable Childcare scheme.

“This means that middle-income families who do not qualify for GP visit cards will miss out on their full subsidy. Under this new “affordable” scheme, families in Cork are facing weekly co-payments of €166, Waterford parents will be paying €142 a week, while in Dun Laoghaire in Dublin the contribution is a massive €194 a week.

“Fianna Fáil is striving to reduce costs for families, and negotiated a commitment in the Confidence & Supply arrangement with Fine Gael to “seek to alleviate pressures affecting household budgets” including childcare costs.  We need to see more of an effort from Government to make this a reality.

“Childcare costs in Ireland are already prohibitively expensive, and the Department has still not carried out a full analysis of the impact of the Single Affordable Childcare scheme on childcare fees.  If, for example, prices increase by 10%, where will this leave middle-income families?

“While Minister Zappone is presenting this as a temporary measure, she has not even given a deadline for the passage of the legislation needed to fully implement the single affordable Childcare Scheme.  This is a completely unacceptable situation, which is unfairly penalising middle income families, and the Minister must move without delay to ensure that these parents have access to their full subsidy and are not missing out on their entitlements”.