The universal subsidy which will be available through the Affordable Childcare Scheme (ACS) when it is introduced later this year, is currently available through the Community Childcare Subvention Scheme –Universal Programme (CCSU). This was introduced in September 2017 as an interim measure in advance of the ACS. The rate stands at €0.50 per hour up to a maximum of 40 hours per week.
With the introduction of the ACS in November 2019, if the current subsidy level were to increase from 50c to €2 per hour at that point in time, the 2 month cost of the ACS (2019 ACS delivery cycle) would be expected to rise to €44.5m, an increase of €12m over the budget available. It should be noted that based on the construction of the ACS subsidies, there would also be an increase in the lowest available subsidy for 0-3 years under the income assessed component of the scheme which has been factored into the €44.5m. There may also be further behavioural impacts with regard to the parental choice of childcare, which are estimated within the costs, but are challenging to accurately predict at this stage.
In regard to the CCSU programme; the costs for the 2017/18 programme year was €18.6m. An increase to €2 from 50c would therefore be expected to cost an additional €55.8m on a full year basis for the CCSU scheme having regard to 2017/18 cycle figures. However, as noted above, the ACS scheme is to be introduced in November 2019 and therefore only a nine / ten month CCSU cost rather than a full year effect would be expected on the CCSU.
In the 2017/2018 academic year 39,319 children in total benefited from the CCSU programme; with the average monthly take-up equating to some 27,015 children.