herald

Tuesday 11 December 2018

Childcare grant plan is a load of nonsense

Shane Ross
Shane Ross

The last grant that hit the headlines was the water conservation grant. Remember how successful that was?

You got it without having to demonstrate you conserved water. In fact, if you switched on all the taps and let them run, you still got it.

You were even eligible when you didn't bother paying your water charges in the first place.

Forgive me, but when I hear "grant", my thoughts are of ill-conceived, grey vote-fishing silly season ideas.

However, Shane Ross obviously put a lot of thought into it. You could tell that from the pauses in his interviews.

When asked on radio if it was for one grandparent or if you could potentially extend it to four, he didn't rule the latter out.

So, two sets of grandparents could potentially cash in, and you don't even have to prove you're minding your grandkids.

Millionaires

There's no means test required either. So former taoisigh, millionaires and retired bankers would be eligible too.

The minister didn't rule out extending the grant to other family members.

In theory, aunties, uncles, brothers, sisters, cousins and hangers-on look to be eligible.

It looks like we're talking thousands per child, what with all the minders.

That's a lot more than the €70m back-of-a-matchbox calculation that seems to have gone into this one.

The Granny Grant could potentially discriminate against children whose grandparents are working or those who have no grandparents if it's not extended to other relatives.

Would you get it if your grandparents live abroad or if they're unwell?

Will the €1,000 be backdated to when the grandchildren were born? Will it be tax-free? Will it affect pension payments?

Will it pressurise grandparents who previously didn't mind their grandchildren into now doing so?

What about funding childcare properly rather than this confusing approach?

What about a tax credit for parents that would help them financially and has nothing to do with childcare arrangements.

Why shouldn't the stay-at-home mammies and daddies get a grant for minding their own kids - a Mammy and Daddy Grant?

Haven't they given up vital income to rear their children?

It looks once again like society is undervaluing stay-at-home parents while rewarding others for minding their children.

This isn't about not valuing the vital role grandparents play in family life, but pitting parents against parents and households against households without addressing the real issue here - astronomical childcare costs.

Most childcare experts agree we need wrap-around, integrated, free childcare services.

I wonder how much the six men in the Independent Alliance who came up with this proposal know about childcare.

How much childminding have they done?

Lads, your Granny Grant is silly-season gold.

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