Government is tackling the cost of living for families with major investment in childcare and early education in Budget 2024, said a Fine Gael Senator. Senator Mary Seery-Kearney, spokesperson on children, said that the significant investment in childcare in Budget 2024 will substantially benefit families across the country. “Families throughout Ireland have been facing rising household bills and we want to make it easier for those really feeling the squeeze. If you’re looking after a family, you’re facing higher energy bills, grocery bills and the added cost of childcare, which for many, can be a very real source of stress.
“Fine Gael is committed to putting more money in people’s pockets by cutting tax and USC. This is the tenth Budget in a row this has happened to reward work and help people keep more of their hard-earned wages. “Particularly important for families is the fact that the National Childcare Scheme will see a further 25% reduction in fees. This reduction in childcare fees builds on Budget 2023, when childcare fees were also reduced by 25%, which means that in 2024, parents will pay 50% less for their childcare than they did in 2022. The scale of this measure will not be underestimated by parents around the country.
“The double payment of child benefit before Christmas will significantly help parents and guardians. This will provide additional funds for families at a time where finances are strained. In addition, extending the Child Benefit payment to 18-year-olds in full time education will give parents a continuous payment of €140 per month until their child has completed secondary school. “There is also a major expansion of the hot school meals programme. In April 2024, the programme will be expanded to a further 900 primary schools, building on Minister Humphreys’ ambition that every child born today will receive a free hot meal at school by the time they are going to school.
“Free school books will be provided up to junior cycle and child benefit will be extended to 18-year-olds in full time education. “With regards to children with special educational needs, Fine Gael committed to prioritising Special Education in this Government, appointing Minister Madigan as the first ever Minister of Special Education and Inclusion. “The provision of 1200 additional SNAs will further strengthen supports already in place for children who require them and underscores Fine Gael’s commitment to providing the best start for every child,” Senator Seery-Kearney concluded.