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FactCheck: Does the Budget give four times more to "sheep welfare" than home childcare?

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan made the remarkable claim in the Dáil this week. Is it true?


ONE OF THE more remarkable claims made in the aftermath of this year’s Budget came from Green Party leader Eamon Ryan.

During Leader’s Questions in the Dáil on Thursday, he criticised what he called discrimination against stay-at-home childcare, and claimed:

You gave four times as much for sheep welfare as you did for the welfare of those parents who are raising children at home.

Sheep welfare? Is that true?

(Send your FactCheck requests to factcheck@thejournal.ie, tweet @TJ_FactCheck, or send us a DM).

Claim: The Budget gives four times more to sheep welfare than to home childcare
Verdict: Mostly TRUE

  • In 2017, new funding in the form of the Animal Welfare Sheep Scheme will be €25 million, almost four times greater than new funding via the Home Carer Tax Credit (€7 million)
  • Eamon Ryan’s claim was made in the context of new funding
  • BUT – Overall spending on “sheep welfare” (€25 million) will be around three times less than overall spending on the Home Carer Tax Credit (an estimated €77 million)

What was said:

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

You can watch Eamon Ryan’s claim, and a breakdown of the facts, in the video above.

Our focus is this:

You [the government] gave four times as much for sheep welfare as you did for the welfare of those parents who are raising children at home.

The Facts

In response to our request for evidence, the Green Party directed us to figures from the Budget which show that:

  • The increase in the Home Carer tax credit, from €1,000 to €1,100 will cost €7 million (page 5)
  • The introduction of a new Animal Welfare Scheme for Sheep will cost €25 million (page 21)

These figures are accurate.

The Home Carer tax credit, according to Revenue, is for: “A couple in a marriage or civil partnership where one spouse or civil partner is the Home Carer and cares for one/more dependent persons”.

A dependent person is regarded as a child, person over 65, or person with a disability.

It’s important to note that the full cost to the exchequer of the Home Carer tax credit is considerably higher that €7 million.

In 2014, the most recent year for which official figures are available, the tax credit constituted a loss to the exchequer of €60.9 million.

Since the individual credit available is increasing from €1,000 to €1,100, a rise of 10%, and that increase is expected to cost an additional €7 million in 2017, we can estimate that the overall cost of the Home Carer Tax credit is roughly €70 million in 2016.

Therefore it will be roughly €77 million in 2017.

1/2/2012 Spring Lambs Agriculture Industry Source: Laura Hutton/RollingNews.ie

So overall, what the government is spending on “sheep welfare” is more like three times less than it is spending on parents who stay home as carers (in the form of the Home Carer Tax credit).

This is a crucial point, since, taken in isolation, Eamon Ryan’s claim could be interpreted as meaning that overall, four times more is being given to sheep welfare than the Home Carer tax credit.

However, we are obliged to take claims in context. During Leader’s Questions, Ryan made comments which set his claim in the context of new funding for the Home Carer Tax Credit, as compared to new funding for sheep welfare, a newly-created scheme.

Here is the full quote, which you can watch in the video above:

Yes, you gave a €100 increase in the tax credit. The total value of that was about €7 million, as set out in the Budget. You gave four times as much for sheep welfare as you did for the welfare of those parents who are raising children at home.

Eamon Ryan could, and perhaps should have been more careful to specify that he was comparing the amount of new funding given to sheep welfare and home carers.

But his claim was in that context, and the Green Party confirmed this in response to FactCheck’s query.

In addition to this, €25 million is not quite “four times” greater than €7 million (it’s 3.6 times greater).

Taking all these factors into account, and by a very slim margin, we rate this claim Mostly TRUE.

But it bears repeating – overall, funding for home childcare, in the form of the Home Carer tax credit, will be about three times greater next year than funding for “sheep welfare”, in the form of the Animal Welfare Sheep Scheme.

TheJournal.ie’s FactCheck is a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network’s Code of Principles. You can read it here.

For information on how FactCheck works, what the verdicts mean, and how you can take part, check out our Reader’s Guide here

About the author:

Dan MacGuill

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