Water Charges may ‘curtail Childminding’
Childcare services in homes used by low-income families face being closed or having to curtail their services because of financial pressures from the new water charges.
Anti-poverty charities have also called for exemptions for children over 18 who live at home but are still in education.
The concerns are in submissions to the Energy Regulator from advocacy groups.
One group also want water bills delayed until February due to financial troubles families face after Christmas.
Childminding Ireland say its members are self-employed, work from the family home, and typically mind four children at any one time. The group say minders are “core to each local economy, providing flexible childcare to allow parents to return to work”.
It adds: “They often provide services for below minimum wages, and therefore cannot afford this additional expense.”
The group say there are 37,900 childminders in Ireland who care for over 51,000 families with pre-school children.
The St Vincent de Paul has also told the regulator that free allowances should be extended for children over 18 who are still at home and finishing secondary education.
The charity wants “leniency” with Irish Water’s first bills and says payment should be in February, as opposed to January, as the post-Christmas period is “one of the most difficult periods” for household budgets.
Focus Ireland want a special cap on charges to be applied to “those moving on from homelessness,” in a similar way to how special allowances will apply to those with medical conditions.
The agency suggests allowances for vulnerable households should be added to welfare payments or through other allowances covering a broader category of people such as the fuel allowance.
It says allowances should be provided for adult children at home and in education up until the age of 23.
Focus Ireland wants pay-as-you-go-meters installed as soon as possible.
Early Childhood Ireland say services for its members “cannot operate without generous allowances of water to support children’s learning and development”.
Any new charges for its members who operate crèches and childcare facilities, some which are linked to homes, would result in job losses and closures, it warns.
The pleas were made ahead of today’s budget which will include further relief for water charges for low income families and the unemployed.
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By Juno McEnroe