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Nursery funds Families have hopes of lower childcare costs

Children and child carers have lunch

(Keystone)

Parliament has approved plans by the Swiss government to set aside an additional CHF96.8 million ($97.3 million) towards subsidies for nurseries and other extra childcare.

The proposal was launched last year in a bid to boost the workforce and broaden the range of childcare options.

Switzerland is notorious for its expensive childcare compared to other western nations, as revealed in a survey by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 2015.

The total cost of a place in a nursery – after deducting various forms of assistance - amounts to about 30% of the average Swiss income. Switzerland invests just 0.1% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in childcare, less than most other European countries.

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives followed the Senate in agreeing the financial incentives for cantonal and local authorities over the next five years.

Supporters, mainly from centre- and leftwing parties, argued that the costs for extra-family care were discouraging many women from seeking a job and that the Swiss workforce needed a boost to compete with immigrant workers.

Interior Minister Alain Berset pointed out that Switzerland lagged behind other countries in terms of childcare support.

Opponents, however, warned that state incentives were undermining private efforts and would lead to a financial burden for the federal authorities.

The government has provided about CHF350 million towards childcare facilities since 2003, creating more than 54,000 places for children in nurseries.

swissinfo.ch with agencies/urs


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