Childcare sector urges cabinet to scrap further subsidy cuts

The government’s plans to scrap €205m from the childcare budget next year should be dropped because the sector has been hit harder than expected by this year’s cuts, say employers, unions and parents organisations.

The groups have written to MPs pointing out that next year’s savings have already been virtually achieved because of the knock-on effect of this year’s cuts.
Occupancy rates at the country’s pre and after-school daycare centres fell by 10.4% in the first six months of this year and childcare organisers are forecasting a further 7% decline in 2013. The social affairs ministry, however, expects more children to use daycare facilities next year.
Financial problems
In the first eight months of this year, 56 daycare centres have gone bankrupt and a further 300 are in financial trouble.
Some 800,000 children spend some time each week in daycare, but parents are cutting hours or taking their children out all together, says Fleur Imming of the daycare centre association in the Volkskrant.
This year, the government cut childcare subsidies by 3% and the number of hours children spend in daycare centres fell by 5%. This means the government spent €140m less than forecast and that will continue into next year, childcare experts told the paper.

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