Budget 2023: Significant funding allocated to reduce childcare and college fees

ireland
Budget 2023: Significant Funding Allocated To Reduce Childcare And College Fees Budget 2023: Significant Funding Allocated To Reduce Childcare And College Fees
Measures to reduce childcare fees are expected to save families, on average, €1,200 per child annually. Photo: PA Images
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Muireann Duffy

The Government plans to cut childcare costs by 25 per cent as part of measures unveiled in Budget 2023.

Due to commence in January, the €1 billion investment will see childcare costs fall on average by €1,200 per child each year.

The changes will be implemented through increased subsidies as part of the National Childcare Scheme, with the subsidy to be increased from its current rate of 50 cent per hour to €1.40.

Minister for Children Roderic O'Gorman confirmed the measure will be universal and will apply to all children up to the age of 15.

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Core funding for the childcare sector will increase by €259 million, Mr O'Gorman said, "to ensure services who have signed up can expand and provide more available places to families, particularly for babies".

The Minister added the increased funding was "a clear recognition of the importance of childcare by the State and how it should play a greater role in the provision of childcare, for the public good".

Meanwhile, the Department of Higher and Further Education secured funding for a once-off €1,000 reduction in the student contribution for eligible third-level students for the 2022/2023 academic year.

In addition, from next September, households with an income of between €62,000-€100,000 will see a permanent €500 reduction in the contribution fee.

The threshold for students to qualify for the 50 per cent reduction in contribution fees under SUSI will also increase from €55,240 to €62,000.

This year's SUSI recipients will receive a once-off double monthly payment, and from next September, all maintenance grants will increase by between 10-14 per cent.

For post-grads, the tuition fee contribution grant will increase by €1,000, with Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath adding the post-graduate fee contribution for eligible students of €3,500 will increase by €500, while the phD stipend will also increase.

The Department of Education received €9.6 billion in funding for 2023, including a capital budget of €860 million.

Among the measures to be rolled out for younger students is the Free School Book Scheme for all primary school students, beginning next September.

Minister for Education Norma Foley also secured funding to reduce the student-teacher ratio by one point, from 24:1 to 23:1, bringing it to its lowest level in the history of the State. This will see the creation of over 660 additional mainstream teacher roles.

Additionally, funding has also been allocated to provide 1,190 additional SNAs and 680 special education teachers.

The Government will also provide €110 million in recognition of the pressure being placed on schools and third-level institutes due to rising energy costs.

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