€1K 'Granny Grant' proposed for grandparents who help with childcare

Grandparents who help out with childcare would receive a €1,000 annual payment under plans outlined by Independent ministers in Budget negotiations.

The self-assessed payment would be available to all grandparents who care for their grandchildren for more than 10 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.

It is being described as a “grandparent and grandchild expenses reimbursement scheme”, which could be worth a four-figure sum to those who help mind younger relatives.

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.

“The payment is aimed at recognising that grandparents allow young mothers and fathers re-enter the workforce by giving their children care they would not get anywhere else and which comes at no cost to parents or the State,” Mr Ross told the Irish Independent.

“This is something that should be encouraged and the reward is significant.”

Mr Ross has been calling for the introduction of a payment for grandparents for the past three budgets but Fine Gael has resisted the move.

However, after the group’s meeting with Mr Donohoe, the Alliance specifically named the grandparent grant as a key demand for October’s Budget.

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.

An Independent Alliance analysis, compiled before the last budget, estimated that almost 70,000 grandparents could be eligible for the grant, costing around €71m a year.

“These grandparents are currently making a key contribution to the Irish economy, resulting in an increased workforce, facilitating a return to employment for parents, who would otherwise be unable to do so,” it stated. “This childcare provision reduces the impact of high childcare costs on young families, whilst providing children with the love and attention of family members.”

Similar schemes exist in other countries. In the UK, grandparents can top up their pension pots by applying for national insurance credits if they look after children aged under 12.

Around 100,000 grandparents in the UK are eligible for the scheme.

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