Today is Budget Day.

And one of the changes expected to be announced is the inclusion of children up to the age of 15 in the universal payment under the National Childcare Scheme.

There are two types of subsidies available under the National Childcare Scheme: a Universal subsidy and an Income Assessed subsidy, and up until now, only children under three were covered by the non-means-tested subsidy.

The subsidy provides 50c per hour towards the cost of a Tusla-registered childcare place for a maximum of 45 hours per week.

Following criticism that parents not working full-time were losing out, Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman is also expected to announce changes to the income assessed subsidies under the scheme to give more help to disadvantaged families.

The childcare package in the Budget will also include a new direct State investment into services in return for a guarantee that fees will not be increased, and will also cover improvements to pay and conditions for childcare workers.

The aim will be to help the sustainability of the sector along with staff retention.

The cost to the changes to childcare is estimated at €100m in 2022 rising to €200m in 2023.