Senator Gallagher puts questions to Minister Zappone regarding Budget 2017

Yesterday evening the 18th October 2016, I put forward some very important questions to Minister Zappone in relation to the childcare subsidies that were announced in Budget 2017.

This topic is one that is far-reaching and while it is a good starting point for Ireland as a society, I did express some concerns which had not been made clear in the initial Budget outline.

First and foremost I questioned whether a more tiered approach had been looked at when juggling the facts and figures, €47,000 net wage per annum is the cut-off point which means that any earners that fall above this threshold do not get to avail of the government subsidy that would otherwise be available.

Secondly I questioned how the Minister intends to encourage more childminders to register with TUSLA and asked if there are any roadblocks which could potentially impede their registration.

I also put forward the concern I have in terms of physical infrastructure and whether this had been considered as an expected 23,000 new children are expected to enter the childcare system from September 2018 onwards. Is there infrastructure in place to accommodate this demand? Not only that but this sector of the Irish economy is a very labour intensive one – for good reason – however qualified staff are on an average wage of €11 an hour. These figures compelled me to ask whether there were schemes in the works that would increase staff salaries or at least a form of incentive to make it a more attractive sector to work in.

As I have previously said, the allocation of monies by Minister Zappone was very welcomed as a stepping stone to ensure parents going back to work can actually afford to do so however there are also concerns which I look forward to see being addressed.

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