It Starts Now- Budget 2018 Must Include Increased Investment in Childcare
Aug 30, 2017
Earlier this month, Government launched their “It Starts Now” campaign which aims to inform parents of €19m in Extra Supports for families. As part of the awareness campaign, Government announced its intention to fund an additional 5,000 childcare spaces for school ages children and increase capital funding by 33% to €4 million.
The implementation of the childcare provisions announced by Government in Budget 2017 will be welcomed by families across Ireland and has been welcomed by Chambers Ireland. Childcare is a significant cost of living for many parents and more affordable childcare will have positive implications for families and businesses. By making quality childcare services affordable for parents, Government can reduce living costs for families, enhance female labour market participation, increase the wellbeing of children, address the gender-pay gap, and increase Government revenues with a higher rate of labour force participation.
Supporting Women in the Workplace
Access to affordable childcare is again part of our recommendations to Government ahead of Budget 2018 in October. The high cost of childcare often means that for parents, particularly lone parents, it is not cost effective to both work and pay for childcare. Retaining women in the workforce has also been highlighted as a concern for employers, and was attributed, in part, to the difficulty for employees in accessing affordable childcare.
Further, the reality of women’s default role as care-givers is that these interrupted career trajectories can often result in a gender pay gap, gender pension gap and an absence from positions associated with power and decision making. While these consequences (pay, pension and leadership inequality) are often examined separately, all of these gaps extend from the same root cause; being that women for the most part assume the care-giving roles in society, particularly when it comes to raising families. In some cases this is a choice, but for many, it is often justified for economic reasons because women are either earning less than their male counterparts or the option to take parental leave is not as accessible for partners.
Improving and retaining our competitiveness as an economy must be a central part of how Ireland prepares for the impact on our economy of Brexit. It is our view that that Budget 2018 provides us with an opportunity to address gaps that may be impacting Ireland’s economic performance. Ireland is competing against the top performing countries in the OECD for investment and for access to markets, and if we are to position ourselves as a knowledge-economy with a highly skilled workforce, our human capital must be developed to its fullest. Therefore, ensuring that Ireland is a more equal society, where men and women are supported to reach their full potential, as citizens, employees, leaders and entrepreneurs, should be a crucial part of future policy planning. By ensuring access to affordable childcare services, there are knock-on has positive implications for female labour market participation, the well-being of children, the gender-pay gap, and for Government revenues (due to higher rate of labour force participation.
What we’re asking for
- Government must continue to invest in child-care servicesin the long-term and that funding secured in last year’s budget (€19 million) be matched in Budget 2018.
- Government must ensure that the commitments made in the National Women’s Strategy are introduced and adequately resourced, including: maximising use of schools and existing facilities to support school age childcare, and initiatives to support women returning to work from maternity leave.
- Government must work with employers’ groups to examine how increasing parental leave provisions can be introduced and managed with minimal burden to employers