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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 461-480
 Header Item Greenways Development
 Header Item Driver Test Waiting Lists
 Header Item Road Projects Status
 Header Item Offshore Islands
 Header Item Taxi Data
 Header Item Road Projects Expenditure
 Header Item Regional Road Network
 Header Item Public Transport Data
 Header Item Dublin Bus Fleet
 Header Item Greenhouse Gas Emissions
 Header Item Driver Licence Fees
 Header Item Road Network
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Child Care Services
 Header Item Affordable Childcare Scheme Implementation
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Affordable Childcare Scheme Data

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 971 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 94 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 461-480

Greenways Development

 461. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross when the national greenway strategy will be published; if the Sligo greenway can be given priority for the benefit of the area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29008/18]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross I plan to publish the Strategy for the Future Development of National and Regional Greenways in the coming month.

The Strategy does not propose funding specific Greenways, including the one mentioned or other proposals, rather it sets out the criteria for applications for a funding programme from which successful applicants would be selected.

The Strategy will provide a framework for the development of Ireland's greenways and will determine the type of project to be funded by my Department over the coming decade. This is a long term Strategy with the aim of increasing the number, length and regional spread of greenways across the country. It will set out guidance to project promoters on matters including strategic nature, length, design standards, accommodation works and early consultation with communities and land owners along proposed routes.

This will be followed by a call for applications later in 2018 with a view to awarding funding to a number of projects for drawdown between 2019 to 2021. In this regard, I was pleased to secure additional funding for greenways last year bringing the total available for the period 2018 to 2021 to €55.9m.

Given the increased interest in greenways in recent years I expect that there will be a strong response to this funding call. I would urge potential applicants for funding to progress their planning and design of greenways as far as possible in advance of any application for funding and to resolve any land ownership issues.

Driver Test Waiting Lists

 462. Deputy Niamh Smyth Information on Niamh Smyth Zoom on Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross if a driver test for a person (details supplied) will be expedited; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29082/18]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross This is a matter for the Road Safety Authority. I have referred the question to the Authority for direct reply. I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response is not received within 10 days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Road Projects Status

 463. Deputy Jackie Cahill Information on Jackie Cahill Zoom on Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross if all the land owners and property owners affected by a development (details supplied) have been contacted; the number of individual CPOs required to complete the development; the number of CPOs completed; the number of CPOs in the negotiation stage; the number of CPOs not yet commenced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29156/18]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of the relevant local authority in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from the Council's own resources supplemented by State road grants.

Clare County Council is responsible for implementation of the Shannon Bridge Crossing project, including management of the land acquisition process. The details sought by the Deputy are, therefore, matters for the Council.

Offshore Islands

 464. Deputy Eamon Scanlon Information on Eamon Scanlon Zoom on Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the status of landing licences on Inishmurray Island; if the decision to ban boats from landing on the island will be reversed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29164/18]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The Marine Survey Office within my Department is the safety regulator for maritime transport in Ireland. One of their key responsibilities is to ensure the safety of all passengers travelling by boat.

An assessment of the landing facilities at Inishmurray Island in 2008 deemed the recognised landing on the island to be wholly unsuitable for landing passengers.

Therefore no passenger licences which include Inishmurray on their plying limits have been/or may be issued until such time as the appropriate landing facility has been provided. However, passenger boats which have the appropriate licences may approach the island, so that passengers may see the island and take photographs.

As I have stated before, the solution here is simple - the provision of an appropriately safe landing facility. Once an appropriate landing facility is provided, officials of the Marine Survey office will assess it and any passenger vessel proposing to use the facility with a view to granting the appropriate licence.

Taxi Data

 465. Deputy Imelda Munster Information on Imelda Munster Zoom on Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the estimated cost of the conversion of the taxi and hackney fleet to a fully wheelchair accessible fleet. [29168/18]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross As the Deputy is aware, the regulation of the small public service vehicle (SPSV) industry, including the licensing of wheelchair accessible taxis and wheelchair accessible hackneys, is a matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA) under the provisions of the Taxi Regulation Act 2013. Furthermore, it is the NTA who administer the WAV Grant Scheme for the SPSV industry. The set amounts awarded by grants through this scheme aim to align with the cost difference in purchasing a WAV or converting a vehicle to fulfil the WAV requirements.

Given the role of the NTA, I have referred your question to the Authority for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within 10 working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Road Projects Expenditure

 466. Deputy Imelda Munster Information on Imelda Munster Zoom on Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the cost of the St. Andrews's Agreement commitment to co-fund the construction of the A5 to Derry; and the estimated cost of the project in 2017 and 2018. [29169/18]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross Following on from the St Andrews Agreement, a joint infrastructure investment package was announced in March 2007 by the British and Irish Governments in the context of the re-establishment of the Northern Ireland Executive. Funding of £400 million (sterling) towards the cost of the A5 project was part of that package.

During the financial crisis the Government decided to defer its funding commitment to the A5 project but indicated that the Government would provide £50m (sterling) in two tranches in 2015 and 2016 towards the project.

Subsequently the Fresh Start Agreement in November 2015 reaffirmed the Government's commitment to provide funding of £50 million (sterling) for the A5 project and committed an additional £25 million to ensure that the first phase of the project from Newbuildings to north of Strabane could commence once Northern Ireland authorities were in a position to start work on the project.

As the Northern Ireland authorities are responsible for implementation of the scheme, my Department does not have details of expenditure related to the project for 2017 and 2018.

Following the Capital Plan Review in 2017 funding is being allocated to my Department in the years 2019 to 2021 to meet the Government's commitment in the Fresh Start Agreement..

Regional Road Network

 467. Deputy Imelda Munster Information on Imelda Munster Zoom on Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the 2018 budget allocation for investment in regional and local roads; and the estimated cost of increasing same by 5%. [29170/18]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of the relevant local authority in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from the Council's own resources supplemented by State road grants.

The total allocation for regional and local roads in 2018 is €416.8 million and to increase this by 5% would cost €20.8 million. Details of the regional and local road grant allocations for this year are outlined in the 2018 regional and local road grant allocation booklet which is available in the Dáil Library.

Public Transport Data

 468. Deputy John Curran Information on John Curran Zoom on John Curran asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the amount of funding allocated to the green public transport fund to support the uptake of energy efficient technologies for PSO operators in 2017 and 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29250/18]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross Within my Department's overall funding allocation, €5.5m is assigned in 2018 and €29m from 2019-2021 specifically to provide for a Carbon Reduction Programme to fund measures which support decarbonising the transport sector.

From within that allocation, funding is sourced for a Green Public Transport Fund established to support the uptake of low carbon, energy efficient technologies within the public transport sector. The fund is intended to support piloting and uptake of energy-efficient and alternatively fuelled technologies for PSO operators within the bus fleet and small public service vehicle (SPSV) sector, as well as bridging the price differential between such technologies and conventionally fuelled vehicles.

No funding was drawn down in 2017. However, an up-to-date and comprehensive set of vehicle trials is being planned to commence later this year to help inform purchasing decisions for new buses over the coming years. It is envisaged that in 2018 the NTA will employ the Fund to support these urban bus fleet trials.

The Green Public Transport Fund is also supporting the transition of the national SPSV fleet to alternative technologies through the establishment of a new Electric Vehicle SPSV Grant Scheme. By the end of May 2018, €45,221 had been drawn down from the Green Public Transport Fund to pay grants under this scheme.

Dublin Bus Fleet

 469. Deputy John Curran Information on John Curran Zoom on John Curran asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the estimated cost of the alternative urban bus fleet trials; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29251/18]

 470. Deputy John Curran Information on John Curran Zoom on John Curran asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the details of work being carried out to implement the targets as set out in the national development programme to cease purchasing diesel-only buses from July 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29252/18]

 471. Deputy John Curran Information on John Curran Zoom on John Curran asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross when the alternative urban bus fleet trials will begin in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29253/18]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross I propose to take Questions Nos. 469 to 471, inclusive, together.

  According to the most recent (2016) estimates from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), only about 3% of all transport-derived CO2 emissions come from bus and coach fleets. Converting these vehicles to low-carbon alternatives will have a limited mitigation impact on Ireland's overall CO2 emissions. It will, however, show important leadership in this area and will promote and normalise the use of non-conventional fuels and technologies to the public.

  As the Deputy is aware, under the new National Development Programme, we have committed that we will no longer buy diesel-only buses for the urban public bus fleet from July 2019. The decision on the most appropriate lower-emitting fuels and technologies for the Irish context will rest with the National Transport Authority (NTA) and work is already underway on preparing for implementation.

  In tandem, an up-to-date and comprehensive set of vehicle trials is being planned to commence later this year to help further inform purchasing decisions for new buses over the coming years. The technologies likely to be tested include full electrification, diesel-electric hybrids, and compressed natural gas; it is expected that the vehicles will be tested in both the GDA and in a regional city. The trials are likely to consider CO2 emissions, air quality impacts, and contribution potential towards renewable energy targets as well as costs, vehicle availability, and operational/infrastructural requirements.

  My Department is working together with the NTA and key urban transport operators (Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann) to develop and coordinate these trials, which are planned to commence before the end of this year. The cost of the trials is yet to be determined but it is expected that demonstration vehicles will be procured to conduct trials in test conditions without purchase costs being incurred. The majority of costs are expected to arise from the on-board assessment of real world emissions by independent consultants.

  Noting its responsibility with regards to this matter, I have referred your questions to the NTA for consideration and direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

 472. Deputy John Curran Information on John Curran Zoom on John Curran asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the targets for Dublin Bus to reduce emissions by 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29254/18]

 473. Deputy John Curran Information on John Curran Zoom on John Curran asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the number of green energy buses that have been introduced to the Bus Éireann bus fleet to date; the targets for moving to low emission vehicles; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29255/18]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross I propose to take Questions Nos. 472 and 473 together.

  Specific emissions reductions targets for neither the Dublin Bus nor Bus Eireann fleets to 2020 have been set.

  As the Deputy is aware, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) estimate that only about 3% of all transport-derived CO2 emissions come from the national bus and coach fleets. Converting the public transport bus fleets to low-carbon alternatives would have a very limited mitigation impact on Ireland's overall CO2   emissions profile and on our emissions targets for 2020. However, transitioning the national bus fleet away from fossil fuels is nonetheless an important measure to allow Government to show leadership in this area, which will normalise and promote the uptake by the public of alternative fuels and technologies.

  As the Deputy is aware, under the National Development Plan (2018) we have committed that, from July 2019 onwards, we will no longer buy diesel-only buses for the urban public bus fleet; and work is already underway on preparing for implementation of this.

 Given the limited CO2 mitigation potential of converting the bus fleet to alternative fuels/technologies the influence of pollutants on air quality has been considered significant. In recent years all new diesel bus purchases in Ireland have been required to meet the Euro VI engine emissions standard, which regulates the amount of dangerous pollutants such as NOx   and particulate matter (PM) that is permitted from diesel engines. These cleaner Euro VI buses represented a very significant improvement in emission reductions when compared with the older vehicles that they replaced and had significant co-benefits for our air quality. Efforts to ‘green’ the fleet will continue and undoubtedly older, more polluting buses will be the first to be replaced with lower-emission vehicles.

  Noting its responsibility with regards to this matter, I have referred the Deputy's queries to the NTA for consideration and direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Driver Licence Fees

 474. Deputy Mary Butler Information on Mary Butler Zoom on Mary Butler asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross his plans to amend or abolish the fees associated with the renewal of driver licences for persons aged 70 years and over; if concessions or reductions can be made with the prescribed fee of €30 to €55 which is payable subject to certification of fitness from a general practitioner by older persons to apply for a renewal of their licence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29311/18]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross I am pleased to inform the Deputy that there is no fee charged for the renewal of a driving licence where the applicant is over the age of 70.

  There is a requirement for applicants over the age of 70 to provide a medical report and an eyesight test. This is done in the interests of public safety, both of the applicants and of other road users. I have no authority over the costs of eyesight or medical tests.

Road Network

 475. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross when approval will be sought to progress with the N6 Galway bypass project to planning and construction; the reason for the delay in approving this project which is causing further slippage in the announced timeframe for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29402/18]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross As Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme. The planning, design and implementation of individual road projects is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland under the Roads Acts 1993-2015 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.

Noting the above position, I have referred the Deputy's question to TII for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Departmental Expenditure

 476. Deputy Eamon Ryan Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross if he will provide a digital copy of his Department's monthly expenditure report to the end of June 2018. [29425/18]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross Please see below a copy of my Department's monthly expenditure until the end of May 2018. We do not have figures on hand at present for expenditure to the end of June 2018.

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May
  €'000 €'000 €'000 €'000 €'000
V31 - TRANSPORT, TOURISM AND SPORT (CURRENT) 60,906 61,370 35,987 66,066 36,339
V31 - GROSS 61,498 61,957 36,449 66,495 36,846
A - CIVIL AVIATION PROGRAMME PAY / NON PAY / N/A PENSION 3,693 480 1,037 2,563 1,236
B - LAND TRANSPORT PROGRAMME - NON PAY / PAY/ PENSION 47,332 24,766 28,354 25,240 28,729
C- MARITIME TSP & SAFETY PROG NON PAY / PAY / PENSION 6,298 6,344 6,760 7,356 6,602
D. SPORTS & RECREATION SERVICES PAY / NON PAY / PENSION 147 €18,069 163 13,063 161
E. TOURISM SERVICES PROGRAMME NON PAY / PAY / PENSION 4,028 12,298 135 18,273 118
 * There was no Capital spend for Civil Aviation in January, February and March, their expenditure is due to take place later in the year.

Child Care Services

 477. Deputy Eamon Scanlon Information on Eamon Scanlon Zoom on Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone her plans to increase wages in the early childcare sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28713/18]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone It is important that we acknowledge the critical role played by staff working in the early years sector in delivering high quality childcare services. The early years work force deserve to be recognised, valued and respected. My Department does, however, acknowledge that pay and conditions are major issues facing the sector. I am engaging with the early years sector to explore how this can be addressed.

It is important to note that my Department is not an employer of early years educators. While my Department is a significant funder of childcare services, recognised employer and employee groups are the most important stakeholders in putting agreed pay structures in place in any sector.

In terms of improving pay and conditions I have suggested to the early years sector that they could apply to the Labour Court for a Sectoral Employment Order (SEO), asking the Court to make a recommendation in relation to pay for the whole early years sector.

Under a SEO process, organisations substantially representative of employers and employees come together to agree a way forward and submissions are sought from key stakeholders. It should be highlighted that my Department would have no role in relation to the SEO process, but, as a significant funder and with policy responsibility for quality, my Department would be well placed to make a submission to the Court once it publishes its notice in relation to the matter of the application for a SEO for the sector. I would be very supportive of any reasonable measures aimed at improving pay and conditions in the early years sector. While my Department does not have direct control over the matter, it will continue to support any appropriate initiatives in this area.

In the interim, my Department continues to invest significant resources in the early years sector. In the last three Budgets (2016, 2017 and 2018) investment in the early years sector has increased by 87%, which reflects the emphasis being placed on developing quality services with appropriately supported staff. This additional investment is helping to address affordability, access and quality, although it is recognised that there is more to be done. The announcement in Budget 2018 that we will increase ECCE capitation rates by 7% from September 2018 is intended to support the childcare workforce.

Childcare workers are part of a growing sector that the Government strongly supports. I believe that by working together with all key stakeholders we can ensure that it is a viable and strong sector which makes a significant contribution to the care and early education of our children.

Affordable Childcare Scheme Implementation

 478. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin Information on Fiona O'Loughlin Zoom on Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the status of the implementation of the affordable childcare scheme; when it will be fully functioning; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28719/18]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I am glad to report that the officials at my Department are making good progress in the development of the Affordable Childcare Scheme. This development involves intensive work across legislative, ICT, administrative, governance and communications areas.

With regard to the legislation establishing the new Affordable Childcare Scheme, the Childcare Support Bill completed its passage through the Houses of the Oireachtas on Tuesday, 26th June, and is expected to be enacted in the coming days.

The Childcare Support Bill will be underpinned by detailed secondary legislation and formal policy guidelines. Work is currently ongoing on both of these and also on the development of regulations to provide, for the first time, for the registration of school-age childcare services by the Tusla Early Years Inspectorate. These latter regulations will be introduced in advance of the Affordable Childcare Scheme to allow services to register and thereby participate in the scheme from its inception.

With regard to the development of the ICT system, our work is subject to an independent peer review process under the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer to ensure that it is rigorous, robust and of the highest possible standard. Against a backdrop of detailed preparatory work, at the beginning of the year, I published a Request for Tenders for the development of the scheme's IT system. An evaluation of tenders received has now been completed, a preferred bidder has been notified and the contract negotiation phase is underway. This final contracting phase involves the agreement of a project implementation plan for the IT system which will set out timelines for its development, testing and 'go live'. Once this project implementation plan is agreed as part of the IT contract, and approved by the independent Peer Review Group, I will be in a position to confirm and communicate a planned start date for the Affordable Childcare Scheme.

I am happy to say that good progress is being made too on the administrative, governance and communications areas.

Finally, the Deputy may also wish to note that 76,000 children have availed of childcare subsidies under the interim measures introduced in September 2017 in order to fast-track some of the benefits of the Affordable Childcare Scheme.

Departmental Expenditure

 479. Deputy David Cullinane Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the annual expenditure on commercial archaeology services in her Department by provider in each of the years 2013 to 2017 and to date in 2018; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28740/18]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The Deputy might note that there was no expenditure directly incurred by my Department since 2013 in regard to commercial archaeology services.

Affordable Childcare Scheme Data

 480. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the number of children in each net income bracket (details supplied) who are in receipt of childcare subsidies under the single affordable childcare scheme. [28870/18]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone When the Affordable Childcare Scheme is introduced, it will replace the existing targeted childcare subsidy schemes, and the current under 3s universal scheme, with a single scheme, in which families will be able to benefit from either a universal or a targeted subsidy.

The universal subsidy will be available for all children between 6 months and 3 years old, as well as those who are already 3 years old but who do not yet qualify for entry into the ECCE / free pre-school programme. All children between 6 months and 3 years old who are in a Tusla-registered childcare setting will, therefore, regardless of parental income, qualify for a childcare subsidy under the Affordable Childcare Scheme.

The basis for determining the level of targeted subsidy will be a family's net income. On the introduction of the Affordable Childcare Scheme, all families with a net income (after allowable deductions) of less than €47,500 per annum will qualify for some level of targeted subsidy.

In advance of the Scheme starting, there is considerable difficulty in predicting the number of children who will benefit from subsidies under the Scheme, because of uncertainty around 'dynamic' effects on the demand for childcare. The increased subsidies and wider access to subsidies that will arise with the Affordable Childcare Scheme are likely to increase the demand for Tusla-registered childcare (including Tusla-registered childminders) through increasing parents' participation in the labour market and through incentivising parents to switch from unregistered childcare to registered childcare. The lack of Irish evidence on the price elasticity of demand for childcare makes it hard to estimate the likely scale of these effects.

In addition, the number of children who benefit from subsidies will depend on the response by childcare providers, as the subsidies will only be available to providers who choose to participate in the Scheme. A particular uncertainty here is the number of currently unregistered childminders who are eligible to register with Tusla and who may choose to do so for the first time in order to take part in the Scheme. While the number of registered childminders is small at the moment, work is commencing on the development of a childminding action plan, which is intended to increase the number of registered childminders over the years ahead.

As a result of these various uncertainties, at this stage we do not have a single estimate of the likely number of beneficiaries or the cost of the scheme.

However, the Regulatory Impact Analysis published in December 2017 estimated that the full-year costs of the Scheme might amount to between €165m and €193m, though the full impact of the dynamic effects might only be seen over time rather than in the first year of the Scheme. The €165m cost estimate, which was drawn from a model developed by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, assumed that approximately 82,000 children would benefit from childcare subsidies under the Affordable Childcare Scheme, of which approximately 59,000 were expected to benefit from a targeted subsidy and 23,000 from a universal subsidy.

The estimates of the number of beneficiaries, including the likely number of beneficiaries in different income-brackets, continue to be re-examined on an on-going basis, as new data becomes available.


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