SIPTU representatives have said that the promises on childcare contained in the Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil election manifestos published today (Friday, 24th January) are not adequate to deal with the worsening crisis in the childcare sector. SIPTU Head of Organising and Campaigns, Darragh O’Connor, said: “The childcare policies outlined in the Fine Gael manifesto are a continuation of those that have done nothing to reduce fees or improve working conditions.  “The party is proposing a means-tested programme which will have little impact on average and middle-income households. These subsidies are even more likely to fuel increases in childcare fees as they are driving demand without addressing the supply of quality childcare places.” “Fianna Fáil proposes to increase the universal childcare subsidy to providers by €60 per week over the next five years. This will have little impact on reducing fees. When the universal subsidy was first introduced, fees rose by between 6% and 12%. There is nothing to suggest increasing the subsidy will reduce fees.  “The Fianna Fáil proposal is throwing money into a broken system with no control over how that money is used. There is no control over whether it will be utilised to improve wages and working conditions, reduce fees, or increase investment.  Perversely, this subsidy increase could be a dividends bonanza for the corporates and international chains in the childcare sector.” He added: “Neither Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil are willing to admit the obvious – that our childcare model is broken.  There is no reference to the low-pay crisis or emerging staff shortages in the sector. They are also unwilling to commit to a public service model for childcare. Unfortunately, both parties  continue to treat childcare as a market.  Their manifesto proposals are just more of the same.”