Labour ministers came under fire from across the political spectrum on Wednesday for doing a u-turn on the party’s election pledge to back free childcare.
An overspend of up to €1bn on the pre and after-school childcare budget means fees for many parents are being raised and some types of childcare will no longer be subsidised.
During the debate, junior education minister Sharon Dijksma, who is in charge of childcare, said ‘there are no pain-free solutions’. She said the exact details of who will have to pay more have not yet been calculated.
Labour MP Margot Kraneveldt told Dijksma it would be unacceptable if parents found themselves working less because they could not afford childcare.
‘You don’t scrap doctors if too many people become ill,’ Femke Halsema, leader of the green party GroenLinks was reported as saying in the Volkskrant.
The paper says that the planned cuts have exposed deep divisions within the three-party coalition. The Christian Democrats want to spread the cuts across the board while Labour wants to put the extra cost on higher income families.
Last year the cabinet went through a similar crisis over plans to reform redundancy law, which were eventually put on ice.
Magazine FEM Business reports that finance minister and Labour leader Wouter Bos blames himself for the overspend by getting the figures wrong. ‘The estimates were out and that is my fault,’ the magazine quotes him as saying. ‘We had set aside €2.4bn but the costs threaten to reach €3.4bn.’
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