Almost a quarter of lone-parent families and a fifth of families with a disabled adult were not able to get the level of formal childcare that they required two years ago, according to a report by the ESRI.

The study also found that working-age families with a disabled adult suffered the greatest impact of the failure to meet professional home care needs.

Commissioned by the Department of Social Protection, the study examined who was most likely to have unmet needs for two separate services: formal childcare and professional home care. 

It studied data collected from more than 5,000 households and more than 13,000 individuals covered by the 2016 Survey on Income and Living Conditions. 

Access to childcare was examined for families with children up to the age of 12, while access to home care was monitored for households with an ill or infirm member in need of help.

The investigation found that unmet childcare needs were greatest among lower-class families, households in poverty, lone-parent families and families with an adult who has a disability. 

The most commonly reported reason for not having enough childcare was unaffordability.  

Unmet home care needs were greatest (20%) among working-age families with an adult who had a disability, while the most commonly reported reason for the shortfall in homecare was lack of availability of services.

Meanwhile, 23% of deprived households with children had unmet childcare needs, compared with 14% of households that were not deprived.