Budget 2015 Analysis

Published date: 
Wednesday, October 15, 2014

While some aspects of Budget 2015 are welcome, the Budget was a missed opportunity to move towards high quality, affordable early care and education in Ireland. In our Pre-Budget Submission,1 published in July, we recommended that Budget 2015 should do the following:

1. Extend subsidised places in early years services, to make ‘childcare’ more affordable and raise quality standards at the same time.

2. Carry out an audit of the quality of early years services.

3. Make public funding conditional on quality: withdraw funding where standards are not met.

4. Increase resources for the Early Years Inspectorate.

5. Retain the Free Pre-School Year as universal and free.

6. Maintain the rate of Child Benefit at its current level.

Disappointingly, there was no progress on any of the first three of our Budget recommendations.

There was no increase in investment in early care and education services to raise quality or improve affordability – even though Ireland has the one of the lowest rates of early years investment in Europe. We did see some action being taken on our other recommendations. In particular, there was a €5 monthly increase in Child Benefit. The increase is welcome but, coming after years of cutbacks to Child Benefit, it is not enough to make a big difference to most families. 

Catriona Graham