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Are you a parent? Here's what Budget 2017 will do for you

Subsidised childcare, increased benefits for single parents and tax cuts will all benefit families.

Image: piggy bank image via Shutterstock

THERE WERE FEW surprises in today’s Budget announcement and it was known well in advance that it would include a provision for a childcare subsidy.

The Single Affordable Childcare Scheme, which will begin next September, will provide a universal subsidy to families with a child between the age of six months and three years.

Here’s what’s included:

  • Parents working fulltime will be eligible for a subsidy of up to €80 per month, depending on their income, and it will be paid to child services registered with the child and family agency Tusla.
  • The highest levels of subsidy will be provided to those on the lowest incomes, approximately €8,000 a year, based on the maximum of 40-hours childcare a week.
  • Households earning up to €47,500 net income will be able to avail of subsidised childcare.
  • There will also be means-tested subsidies for children up to 15 years of age.

Pre-school

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone also said the Budget enables the further roll-out of the Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme (ECCE)

The scheme has been expanded from this September to cover all children from age three until they start in school.

“Parents now benefit from an average of 61 weeks of free pre-school, saving an average of €4000 on their childcare costs for each eligible child,” she said.

Measures to help parents with childcare costs were hailed as a positive move towards increasing women’s participation in employment.

Orla O’Connor, director of the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) told Fora today:

The proposed package is a breakthrough for the provision of childcare in this country. This applies to women across all income groups as they are the most likely to drop out of employment when they have children.

Benefits and tax cuts

Though many parents will have been wishing for an increase in child benefit this year, this was not included in Budget 2017. There was, however, an increase of €5 per week in the one parent family payment, starting from March.

There will also be an increase in the home carer tax credit of €100. This can be claimed by couples who are married or in a civil partnership where one spouse cares for one or more child in the home.

Another measure that relates to parents is the raising of the lifetime tax-free thresholds applying to gifts and inheritances from parents to children. This is rising from €280,000 to €310,000.

Though they are not specifically directed at parents, cuts to the Universal Social Charge (USC) are likely to have the biggest impact on family incomes.

  • A family with three children under 12, with one parent working part time and another earning €40,000, for example, will save just over €200 a year because of this change.
  • A couple with three children aged ten and under, with an income of €50,000 from one self-employed parent, will pay €253 less in USC.

Today, Finance Minister Michael Noonan said these changes, though relatively small “will have a material impact on the disposable income of lower and middle-income earners”.

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