herald

Sunday 20 August 2017

Childcare costs are 'trapping women who want to work'

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WORKING mums want tax relief to help with soaring childcare costs.

The call comes as new research shows 63pc of working mothers are struggling to manage their childcare costs.

Some 84pc of stay-at-home mums would like to take up employment but are restricted by high childcare costs.

Over a third are using au pairs to better manage their childcare costs, but would prefer to place their children in professional childcare or afterschool services.

An overwhelming 91pc of mums believe the introduction of a tax credit for professional childcare services would improve their financial situation.

The new figures show nearly half of working mums lean on the generosity of grandparents and other family members to bridge the gap.

In its pre-Budget submission, MummyPages.ie proposes that families should be able to claim marginal tax relief and a tax credit of up to €1,500 per child a year in tax-free childcare. It added that the proposal has the potential to provide much-needed support to more than 900,000 families.

MummyPages.ie is Ireland's biggest online community of mothers and has 500,000-plus unique users every month.

Prohibitive

"The high costs of professional childcare services are prohibitive for many of our mums who wish to continue working after they have had children," said Laura Haugh, mum-in-residence for MummyPages.ie.

"Our proposal to include tax-free childcare for families where both parents work outside of the home will help many families who need two incomes simply to meet their mortgage requirements. It also introduces choices to mums who wish to work outside the home, where up until now, many have reported feeling trapped by childcare costs."

Ms Haugh said that very often this scenario sees the family forced into making a decision for the higher income earner, who is more often the male partner, to be the one to continue working.

The tax-free childcare proposal could save a low to middle-income earning, dual-income family around €2,190 a year if it was introduced.

The research on childcare costs was carried out by the website among a sample of 1,000 mothers.

fdillon@herald.ie

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