The other day – 6th January – was The Epiphany and on that day, quite by co-incidence, I had an Epiphany. I made the realisation that when I deduct the cost of childcare from my take-home pay I’m left with €900 per month or €225/week. Apparently – according to my twitter-friends who know more about these things – if I stopped working I would get a PRSI payment of €200/week for the first 12 months. I don’t know if that figure is then taxed – researching un-employment benefit has never previously been on my agenda; but if it’s not it means that the difference between me sitting at my desk and sitting at home is €5/day.
This is a very sobering and demoralising thought. Why go out to work? Why not stay-at-home and care for my kids? That is the message my society seems to be sending me. So what if I’d like to use what I trained for five years at University to do; what I did my Professional Practice exams in; what I’ve gained 15 years experience in? So what if I am intelligent, diligent, conscientious, hard-working? So what if my three kids will contribute to this generation’s pension fund in the future? By having three kids I appear to have out-stayed my welcome in the workforce.
I realise this country’s economy is up the Suwannee and we’re in hock to the IMF, the ECB and anyone else we can wrangle a few shillings out of. Regardless, surely there is a case for tax-relief for childcare at source. Surely it is in this State’s interest to offer me more than €5/day to go out to work, pay taxes, pay PRSI and this new Universal Social Fund Levy, not to mention employ two local childcare businesses; than if I were to stay at home, take my kids out of childcare and claim benefit.
So if you’re reading this, and you’re of a political bent, advocate for tax-relief for childcare when the politicians come knocking on your door. Or we might as well bring back the marriage bar.