The lack of affordable childcare could become an election issue in Ireland as a new poll finds overwhelming dissatisfaction with the government's response to what many people view as a growing crisis.
The 4th annual childcare survey by RecruitIreland.com has found that childcare is a raging issue for most workers in Ireland, with two-thirds of the 700 people interviewed saying that the current government has performed poorly or very poorly on the issue.
Almost three-quarters (72 per cent) said that as a result, their vote will be influenced by the availability of affordable childcare
Eight out of 10 also said that the introduction of a annual payment of Euro1,000 towards the costs of care is inadequate.
And little wonder. Around a quarter of those questioned said that they spend the same on childcare every month as they do on their mortgage or rent while a further one in five pay more for childcare than their mortgage.
Of those who pay more for childcare than their mortgage, four out of 10 are paying 10 per cent more while a third pay anything from 11 per cent to 30 per cent more. And for almost one in five, a quarter of their monthly income goes on childcare.
As a result, almost two-thirds of those surveyed (63 per cent) said they would change jobs and take a pay cut of between 10 and 20 per cent if it meant getting a job with crèche facilities in their place of work.
"Childcare is obviously a loaded issue for parents and it looks as if it's going to be a key issue in the next election," said Aoife Curtin of RecruitIreland.com.
"However it also poses wider questions for society, particularly as parents are not getting to spend time with their children during their normal workdays.
"In addition the stress – both financial and emotional – brought on by the lack of affordable childcare facilities is one that everyone should take notice of. The issue of affordability was highlighted by many respondents to our survey with many people feeling that they cannot afford to have children given the costs involved."
Nationally, the survey found that barely more than one in 10 (11 per cent) get to spend more than four hours per working day with their children, a figure which plummets to just one in 20 for people living in Dublin.
Aoife Curtin added that while the issue is clearly a growing source of worry for Irish employees, it also offers a real opportunity for employers.
"From the employer's perspective, these results show that a real opportunity exists to attract and retain key staff by providing high quality childcare access as an incentive. However it also raises a challenge for employers as many respondents stated that taking parental could be seen as a hindrance to promotion prospects."