Today’s budget highlights the Government’s lack of ambition for families, according to Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore.
Deputy Whitmore, who is the party’s spokesperson on children, said:
“After months of uncertainty over promised cuts to childcare costs, it is welcome that the further 25 per cent reduction is now confirmed. However, it has emerged that this measure will not be introduced until September 2024, which is completely unacceptable.
“These reductions must be brought in now. Families cannot be expected to wait another year for help with spiralling childcare costs.
“Having a family is expensive and those extra costs kick in from the day a child is born, not just when they go into childcare.
“In our alternative budget, the Social Democrats proposed extending Parents’ Benefit by 12 weeks, divided equally between each parent. This would have resulted in a total of 13 weeks’ paid leave per parent for every child, in addition to maternity and paternity leave entitlements. We also called for an increase in the weekly rate for Maternity, Adoptive, Paternity and Parent’s Benefit from €262 to €350.
“In Budget 2024, however, the Government did not increase the rate of payment and only announced an extra two weeks’ paid leave – the bare minimum required under an EU Directive.
“We should be empowering parents to make better choices for their families to allow them spend more time at home with their babies during that critical first year. It is disappointing that the Government did not seize the opportunity to make meaningful, positive changes to family life in today’s budget.”
October 10, 2023