Fianna Fáil’s Spokesperson on Children Robert Troy TD has hit out at Children’s Minister James Reilly for criticising proposals aimed at cutting the cost of childcare while failing to publish any measures which could tackle the problem. 

The Longford-Westmeath TD was responding to reports that the Minister is dismissing the idea of tax credits for working parents.

Deputy Troy commented, “The lack of action by this Government on the childcare costs issue is absolutely unacceptable.  Minister Reilly and his two predecessors have done nothing but pay lip-service to the issue without coming up with any real or tangible proposals.  Now we see the Minister outlining what he intends not to do, without giving any insights into how or if his Government intends to address an issue, which is crippling thousands of families across the country.  It simply isn’t good enough.

“The only time the issue of childcare costs has been debated in the Dáil was during Fianna Fáil Private Members Business earlier this year.  The latest research reveals that an average family with two children spends 40% of their wages on childcare costs, yet successive Ministers in this Government have ignored the problem, promising a series of reviews of current schemes, without putting forward any concrete proposals.

“Affordability and accessibility are the two biggest problems faced by parents with young children.  Frances Fitzgerald ordered a review of the two main childcare schemes, the Community Childcare Scheme and the Childcare Employment and Training Scheme during her tenure as Children’s Minister, however that process appears to have stalled.

“Many families are caught in the trap of one parent being forced to choose between going back to work and forking out huge childcare fees or leaving the workforce to look after their children because it makes more financial sense.  The Government should be doing more to facilitate parents who wish to return to the workplace, but current policies are actually having the opposite effect.  Fianna Fáil has put forward a range of proposals to support parents who choose to return to work including a childcare subsidy for families who are above the Family Income Supplement threshold. 

“Minister Reilly has been quick to dismiss the prospect of tax credits for working families, however he has failed to present any workable measures to counter rising childcare costs.   This Government has raided families’ income by taxing maternity benefit and cutting child benefit and is continuing to heap pressure on parents by refusing to come up with measures to ease the burden of childcare costs”.