Childcare, housing subsidies to be cut

Grandparents who get paid government subsidies to look after their grandchildren and families earning over €45,000 a year will be hardest hit by cuts in government childcare provision next year, according to media reports.

Ministers agreed on Thursday night to slash spending on pre and after-school provisions from 2009.
The €1.5bn childcare budget has been overspent by some €500m this year. The new measures will be discussed at today’s cabinet meeting.
As well as raising the contribution for richer families, ministers reportedly plan to tackle the informal childcare circuit which is subsidised via special agencies. Grandparents can be paid to look after their grandchildren through these organisations.
According to one agency, Kroostopvang, grandparents can earn up to €4.25 per hour per child. Others advertise payments of over €5,000 per year.
Ministers also plan to take action to curb a €140m overspend in housing benefit which is given to help low income families pay their rent.
In addition, the Telegraaf says finance minister Wouter Bos plans to tackle overspending in the healthcare sector. ‘There are a lot of problems,’ the paper quoted him as saying.

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