Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children Robert Troy has said the findings of an OECD report due out later this month highlighting childcare costs on families should be a wake-up call for the Government.

Deputy Troy has said there is clear evidence that there is an urgent need for increased support for parents who are trying to return to or remain in the workplace.

Deputy Troy commented: “We know that families face staggering bills on a monthly basis for childcare and the annual cost of full-time childcare for two children is over €16,000 a year. I am not surprised that the OECD’s finding that these costs are now a major barrier to parents getting back into the workplace. There are over 400,000 households with children under the age of 10, almost 270,000 of which have children under 5 years of age.

“Childcare is a huge portion of household budgets and Fianna Fáil is calling for a new childcare package from Government that includes a new tax break for working families to help with the cost of childcare. We also believe there is scope for the Government to provide a direct payment through the Family Income Supplement (FIS) to address childcare costs.

“In February Fianna Fáil put forward a motion in the Dáil detailing a range of issues in the childcare area including affordability and accessibility for parents. An extensive Indecon report commissioned by Donegal County Childcare brought this issue to the fore in December last year. The report not only provided factual evidence that the cost of childcare is a barrier for parents returning to work, it offered the Government fully costed proposals to address the situation.

“I again raised the community childcare schemes with Minister Fitzgerald last week but I am very disappointed by the lack of leadership on this issue from the Minister. It’s clear that the Government does not have a coherent plan to tackle the cost of childcare.

“The figures from Indecon International Economic Consultants show that childcare costs account for about 29% of net income for a couple, and almost 50% of net income for lone parents. This is much higher than the EU average of 9.8% and 9% respectively for couples and lone parents.

“Unless the issue of childcare costs is addressed, particularly for lower income families, we will see a much greater number of children being cared for by unregulated childminders. Only 1% of childminders nationally are regulated and subject to inspection. The remainder operate without qualifications, Garda Vetting or inspection.  We need to ensure that crèches and pre-schools, which are regulated, are affordable options for more families. The Government needs to be much more proactive and bring forward positive proposals that will have a meaningful impact for parents across the country.”