Budget 2024: Increasing childcare subsidies 'a good start'

One childcare provider has said making childcare more affordable for parents could potentially render it inaccessible
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

20.09 10 Oct 2023

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Budget 2024: Increasing childc...

Budget 2024: Increasing childcare subsidies 'a good start'

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

20.09 10 Oct 2023

Share this article

Childcare measures announced in Budget 2024 are 'a good start', the Ibec trade association for childcare providers has said.

Childhood Services Ireland said it "cautiously welcomed" aspects of the budget but said more needs to be done to support childcare services.

Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe earlier announced the National Childcare Scheme (NCS) will see a further 25% reduction in childcare costs, and there will be increasing investment through core funding.


From September 2024, all families accessing registered early learning and childcare will receive a minimum hourly universal NCS subsidy of €2.14 off their out-of-pocket costs, rising from a current hourly rate of €1.40.

The Government has said for families on the minimum or universal subsidy, this will mean up to €5,007 off their annual bill per child.

Childhood Services Ireland Director Darragh Whelan said childcare is still unaffordable for many.

"Significantly increasing childcare subsidies is a good start and something we called for in our pre-budget submission, but there is a long way to go for the childcare sector," he said.

"Childcare is still unaffordable for many families, which is impacting their opportunities to enter employment.

“With a freeze on childcare fees in place, services are unable to offset any inflationary cost pressures, and many are really struggling in the current climate.

"The best way to cover costs is by improving core funding, but if funding from the budget does not go far enough, childcare services may have to pass cost on to parents which is wholly undesirable.

"One of the biggest issues is availability of childcare places and without State investment, it is very difficult for services to open up more places for children.

"A programme of capital funding is crucial to stimulate growth of the sector and open more childcare places to keep up with parental demand," he added.

'Public childcare model'

The National Women's Council (NWC) said it "strongly welcomed" a number of positive measures, including the childcare package and increased investment in tackling violence against women.

NWC Director Orla O'Connor said the Government needs to build on the childcare measures.

"A 50% reduction in childcare fees over two budgets will make a significant difference to women and families and is very welcome and urgently needed," she said.

"We must now build on this investment and move towards the delivery of a public childcare model, similar to our primary school system.

"We know that this model has shown to be the most effective in reducing child poverty, fighting social exclusion, and being a game-changer for women’s equality.

"It also ensures better pay and conditions for the predominantly female workforce in the sector. We call on the Government to commit to a public childcare model following Budget 2024," she added.

'Accessible childcare'

Tigers Childcare CEO Karen Clince said making childcare more affordable for parents could potentially render it inaccessible.

"While the reduction in childcare costs will be a welcome relief for parents, we must acknowledge that the sustainability challenges faced by childcare providers persist," she said.

"We've consistently emphasised the substantial rise in operational expenses, leading to an alarming number of closures within the industry this year alone.

"Although the budget alleviates the financial strain on parents, it loses its significance if accessible childcare remains an elusive reality.

"Unfortunately, that's our current predicament and the situation is poised to worsen as more services will be forced to shut down.

"We note in the budget speech from Minister Paschal Donohoe today that funding to childcare facilities will support providers and workers and look forward to hearing the details on this.

"For the well-intentioned national childcare policy to truly succeed, we require State investment that not only tackles affordability for parents but also addresses employee wages and ensures the sustainability of childcare providers," she added.

Main image: A boy plays with building blocks and a toy car at a daycare centre on May 13th 2020.Image: Bernd Thissen/dpa

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Budget 2024 Childcare Childcare Costs Childcare Subsidies Childhood Services Ireland Darragh Whelan Karen Clince National Childcare Scheme National Women's Council Orla O'Connor Paschal Donohoe Tigers Childcare

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