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Press release, 10/12/2009: Start Strong says Budget 2010 was wasted opportunity

Our detailed analysis of Budget 2010 is available in PDF format by clicking on the link above. On the day after the budget, we issued the following press release:

Press release: Start Strong says budget was wasted opportunity.

10 December 2009. Start Strong today described Budget 2010 as a ‘wasted opportunity’. Instead of using this opportunity to lay the foundations for a smart economy and future generations, cut-backs were made which will impact on the lives of children.

Speaking after the Budget, Ciairín de Buis, Director of Start Strong, said ‘Budget 2010 provided the Minister for Finance with the opportunity to look at our society and how we value our children. We could have used this opportunity to invest in future generations’.

While welcoming the fact that the government renewed its commitment to press ahead with the implementation of the Free Pre-school Year, Start Strong were disappointed that the government has announced cutbacks of €2.5m in 2010 in respect of the National Childcare Investment Programme (NCIP). ‘We welcomed the announcement of the Free Pre-School Year last April. It was a significant step in the recognition of the importance of early care and education, and put children at the centre of policy in Ireland. These cut-backs do not. Quality of early care and education is crucial – any cutbacks in this area are likely to impact on quality, which will in turn impact on children’, Ciairín de Buis, Director of Start Strong, explained. 

Start Strong welcomed the fact that some services to children and families were protected. ‘The protection of the current 107 Family Resource Centres around the country will be a welcome relief to many hard-pressed families’, Ciairín de Buis said.

Ciairín de Buis also welcomed the confirmation that funding for the City/County Childcare Committees will not be reduced from 2009 levels.

However, Start Strong were disappointed that not only was Child Benefit cut, but the savings made are not ring-fenced for children. Child Benefit is an investment in children by the Government, involving recognition of the value that our society places on children. Child Benefit also involves recognition of the additional costs that children bring to families. For young children, these costs include the cost of early care and education services. Ciairín de Buis highlighted that ‘Some families with young children will be hit in the New Year by the cuts in Child Benefit at the same time that they are already feeling the cutbacks in the Early Childcare Supplement announced in the April Budget’.


For further information:
Contact: Ciairín de Buis – 087 1207103 / 01 7910101.

Editors Notes:
The cost of early care and education services in Ireland is among the highest of all EU and OECD countries, amounting to more than 50% of the net income of some families.

Start Strong was established in 2004 as the Irish Childcare Policy Network (ICPN), which brought together people and organisations concerned with childcare and early learning in Ireland, to influence and advocate for policy development and appropriate investment in children’s early care and education. Start Strong has a vision of Ireland where all children are valued and supported through quality early care and education. 

By early care and education we mean care and education in the early years, for children aged 0–6. Early care and education is not limited to any one place or time of the day. Young children develop, learn and are nurtured in many places: in their own homes – with their parents and families – in the homes of their grandparents, other relatives and childminders, and in centre-based services such as crèches, playgroups and naíonraí.

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