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Cover of Early Childhood Ireland's budget 2019 submission

Widespread calls for more investment in early years

September 11, 2018

With budget 2019 just under a month away, organisations across Ireland have been releasing their budget submissions, listing what they want to see money spent on in the next budget. Members may have seen the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) budget submission Investing in Our Shared Future, released at the end of August.

Minister Zappone welcomed the ICTU budget asks in a press release, highlighting the levels of government investment in the early years sector set out by ICTU, as necessary to deliver high quality early years care and education for generations.

ICTU calls for increased government investment of €500 million in early years care and education in Ireland in their budget submission. Over the longer term, ICTU demands government investment in early years should be increased to the OECD average of 0.7% of GDP and at a minimum to the UNICEF benchmark of 1% of GDP by 2027.

Early Childhood Ireland welcomes ICTU’s recognition of the need for substantial investment in the early years sector. We have continually demanded more government investment in the early years sector to ensure its quality, sustainability and affordability as seen in our own 2019 budget submission Rising to the Challenge.

ICTU’s budget submission also highlights the poor conditions of employment in the early years sector. Again, Early Childhood Ireland has repeatedly demanded improved terms and conditions of employment for early years employees in order to ensure the sustainability and quality of the early years sector. Recruitment and retention of staff are already major pressure points for providers.

ICTU explains that the high cost of early years education acts as a barrier to employment for low income households, reducing the income of families that need it the most.

The ICTU budget submission calls on the government to invest in social services such as early years, health and housing to ensure that workers and their families receive a fairer share of the economic expansion. To fund this investment, ICTU demands there are no more tax cuts, some tax increases and the abolishment of the 9% special VAT rate for the hospitality sector.

The submission provides context to ICTU’s budget demands by explaining that Ireland has a low level of government revenue per person compared to high-income Western European countries. This means we are not collecting enough revenue through general taxes or social security contributions. In particular, ICTU highlight employer social security contributions (PRSI) as low in Ireland compared to other EU countries. ICTU has asked the government to increase employers PRSI on incomes in excess of €100,000 and for an increase in self-employed PRSI contributions to cover the cost of the benefits they receive currently and any extensions of the self-employed social security schemes. If introduced, this may impact upon self-employed providers and childminders.

Early Childhood Ireland is delighted that other organisations are calling for more investment in the early years sector to address the challenges early years providers face on a daily basis. We encourage our members to read and share our 2019 budget submission Rising to the Challenge in the hope of gaining more support for increased government investment to ensure the sustainability of this vital sector.

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