Who is going to administer this unnecessarily complicated mess? Are they going to hire more pen-pushers in the PS? And this arbitrary age of 4 years six months - so your kid reaches that age but you don’t want to start them in school til they’re five, let’s say - do they have nowhere to go for six months?
I dread to think how they’re going to means-test Child Benefit next year. Again, the complexity of doing such a thing on a national scale is staggering, given the changing circumstances of families from month to month, let alone year to year.
The government has always pitted working mothers against stay at home mothers so it doesn’t actually have to do anything for either of them (it’s also disingenous to treat them as two discrete groups; many women are both at different times in their lives). Sarah Carey’s meanspirited column along the lines of ‘Ha ha, now you have to stay home and mind your own kids because you can’t afford the creche’ fails to take into account the fact that this Budget savages single income families even more. A family that is just about managing to have one parent in the home could be down as much as €600 a month if they lose both ECS and CB.
My solution would be, rather than giving tax relief for childcare (it disincentivises informal family arrangements and frankly, would make most creche owners I’ve encountered hike their fees they way they used to every time Child Benefit went up), to simply give tax credits for children full stop. You get an extra allowance for kids if you’re on social welfare, so why not in the tax system? The Irish tax system only allows tax relief on children if you’re unmarried. When I lived in Germany in the 90s, all parents got tax credits for children and it helped both working parents with childcare costs and stay at home parents with the loss of one income. It’s the fairest way I can think of.