The OECD's 2017 Faces of Joblessness report compared the childcare supports for lone parents previously available in Ireland with the expected impact of the national childcare scheme. It found significant improvement for lone parents. It found that, for certain lower-paid lone parents working full-time, the scheme will bring net childcare costs down from being the highest across the OECD to the 11th highest. Analysis of the impact of the new scheme conducted using the ESRI's simulating welfare and income tax changes, SWITCH, model indicated that, on average, the boost to disposable income provided by the scheme will be larger for one-parent families than for couples, reflecting the typically lower income profile of one-parent families. Employed lone parents are the family type that will experience the greatest gains, with an effective average disposable income increase of €48 per week. These findings reflect the very considerable work undertaken to poverty-proof the national childcare scheme by ensuring that families at or below the relative income poverty line will benefit from the highest subsidy rates.
Many parents will see an increase to the level of subsidy they currently receive and many new families will benefit for the first time. The scheme removes many of the current restrictive eligibility requirements to receive supports, such as those linked to social protection payments or the medical card. In this way, the scheme aims to combat poverty traps and to support parents and ensure they are not disincentivised from taking up a job. Arrangements are in place to ensure that no one loses out in the initial transition to the new scheme. Families can continue to access their current targeted supports and can remain on their current payment until the end of August 2020. In addition, I have asked my officials to undertake further analysis to identify if any refinements are required to the scheme in order to ensure that we fully achieve our aim to deliver quality, accessible, affordable childcare for families in Ireland.