€1,000 ‘Granny Grant’ a token gesture masking a real problem
SILLY season arrived with the force of a shark bite off the eastern seaboard last week. National broadcasting institution Dave Fanning, who can always be relied on for some interesting titbit of brow raising news from around the world, was even reduced to devoting a segment to how to make the perfect cup of tea.
Among his lesser broadcasting mortals, the ‘news’ was even grimmer. Popular pet names, whole segments on trees, where to get the best chips in Ireland, hinted at a wider malaise in Irish society, and in the broadcast media newsrooms in particular.
The endless summer of 2018 was exhausting the imaginative powers of hard pressed media teams and content finders across the country.
Then, on Wednesday, the airwaves ignited when a call was made for grandparents to be given €1,000 a year for minding their grandchildren.
The figure, plucked from mid-air at best, issued from the Independent Alliance like a geyser in the desert.
The call to arms for grandparents across the country who devote their retirement days to minding Johnny ‘Bored’ and ‘Tetchy’ Tammy had the effect of opening up a festering wound in the national psyche.
I know I’m repeating myself here, but minding a child is a huge undertaking and childminders deserve to be well paid for the task. All the bums and noses hat need cleaning, cuts that need tending to, tantrums that need calming, not to mention the need to entertain endlessly, is a huge chore. In most homes both parents have to work so there is no avoiding childminding. The very lucky have a grandmother nearby who will offer to step in and help out, or be guilt tripped into doing same.
The cost of childcare varies from the manageable to the incredible, (some parents I know pay €2,500 a month for three children to be minded in Dublin and that’s not even full-time). Under the Independent TDs plans the self-assessed payment of €1,000 would be available to all grandparents who care for their grandchildren for more than ten hours per week.
In their first negotiations with Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe ahead of the Budget, Shane Ross’s Independent Alliance, which props up the Fine Gael-lead Government, called for its introduction. Grandparents would apply for the payment through the Department of Social Protection - but would not be required to provide vouched expenses to receive the State cash.
Transport Minister Shane Ross said the scheme would give ‘serious recognition’ of the important childcare role that grandparents play.
There is no denying this, but its application remains open for debate. Will it be like Children’s Allowance, which is paid to the rich of the country and is not means tested.
Instead of offering a token payment to grandparents, and in doing so, perpetuating the practise, the Alliance could have advanced plans to help develop a functioning childcare system within the country whereby parents are given tax credits for sending their children to creches, Montessoris and after school clubs. Mr Donohoe has committed to costing the proposal before his next meeting with the Alliance. Mr Ross said he would be ‘banging down’ the Finance Minister’s door over his proposal in the coming weeks. Seeing as he has been championing this payment for three years, parents reading this should be advised to continue keeping their parents sweet!
Grannies AND Grandads could be €1,000 better off under new plans