Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Ceisteanna (695)

Mary Lou McDonald


695. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if the national childcare scheme has been gender proofed. [29598/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

One of the stated policy objectives of the National Childcare Scheme is to support labour market activation and participation, including female labour market participation.

The original policy paper for the scheme, published in October 2016,  considered international evidence on the effects of more affordable childcare on labour market participation. Using the best available evidence, it modelled likely impacts and found that a decrease in childcare costs in Ireland, through a mechanism such as the National Childcare Scheme, would see a resulting rise in female labour market participation.

 In late 2017, a Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) was published alongside the Childcare Support Bill 2017.  At the outset, the RIA referenced the European Commission statement that "The availability and cost of quality fulltime childcare present barriers to female labour market participation and hinder efforts to reduce child poverty".  It then analysed the costs, benefits and impacts of the National Childcare Scheme, finding it to result in wider eligibility for childcare subsidies and positive labour market incentives.

  The National Childcare Scheme will greatly increase the number of families who can access financial support for quality childcare, thereby supporting labour market participation, female labour market participation and poverty reduction.

 At a broader level, the implementation of the Scheme is also referenced as an action in the National Strategy for Women and Girls 2017- 2020.  

 Finally, in addition to gender-proofing the Scheme, I have also worked to poverty-proof the Scheme by ensuring that families at or below the relative income poverty line will benefit from the highest subsidy rates under the Scheme.  Analysis by the OECD finds that the Scheme will significantly address affordability for lower income families, with analysis showing that Ireland will, for example, change from being the most expensive country in the OECD for childcare for lone parents, to 11th position.