Is our Government as pro-child as it claims? Irish Independent reporter Thomas Molloy has dug up a few figures to suggest it might not be.
He writes: “As a society, we have made a conscious decision to favour the elderly (who vote) and discriminate against children (who don't).
“There is no other country in Europe that allows old people to travel for free while forcing children to pay for school buses and other forms of public transport. There is also no other country in Europe that makes children and their parents pay for routine health care while exempting the over-70s.
“All the available data shows that the recession has made this trend even more extreme, as children continue to bear the brunt while their parents suffer and grandparents thrive.”
The costs for parents, as he points out, go way beyond childcare. Parents with three or four children can pay more than €1,000 for school books each year, and are expected to make voluntary donations to their local schools.
The IMF has already said that it wants the Government to look at means testing the child benefit system which it seems to regard as overly generous.
But as Molloy points out, it seems to be forgetting “that Irish parents face a host of expensive outgoings that do not trouble other Europeans”.
However, Molloy overlooks the situation of couples where one spouse, usually the mother, chooses to work in the home fulltime. They don't have to pay for childcare, but they pay up to €6,240 extra in tax per annum, because of tax individualisation.
In addition, in 2009, the Government abolished a childcare supplement worth €1000-per-year to parents with children aged five and under, replacing it with a scheme which gives this money directly to childcare providers, depriving parents of the choice as to how they want to provide care for their children.
Combined with the cost of a mortgage, it's no wonder that number of stay-at-home mothers continues to plummet.