Budget 2013 has been delivered in the UK today. Responding to the UK government’s announcement that up to 85% of childcare costs for some low-income families eligible for Universal Credit (UC) will be covered from April 2016, Stuart Duffin, One Family’s Director of Policy & Programmes, said:
“UK government is recognising the high costs of childcare in the UK which acts as a significant deterrent for all families who want to get back to work or work longer hours. But this scheme would do very little to help the families that need it most, or to reduce child poverty.
“The plans announced are extraordinarily complicated, inadequately tailored and too far in the distance to provide comfort for families struggling right now. The new scheme is weighted heavily in favour of those on high incomes. With the UK economy still stagnant and child poverty rising, low income families need stronger work incentives now, not in three years’ time after the next general election in the UK.
“Accessing affordable childcare is a gateway to starting work for many parents and in particular those parenting alone. Restricting higher levels of childcare support under the Universal Credit to parents only when they are already in work reinforces the barriers in the crucial period of transition into work that universal credit sought to break down, so the danger is that only a smaller number of low-income families will actually benefit from this proposal.”
If Ministers Burton and Fitzgerald are following this One Family would recommend direct social investment in the provision of childcare, free at the point of demand. If the Irish government is not taking that option, we promote that other approaches should at least be tailored to low income families, and in particular to those parenting alone, rather than using the bulk of resources for wealthier families as is happening in the UK.