City councillor says “spiraling childcare costs” not being addressed by government

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Fianna Fáil City Councillor, Alan Cheevers, has said the government are not taking any actions to curtail soaring childcare costs, despite claiming to do so.

The city east councillor said that he has been contacted by numerous people in his ward who have told him they can no long afford the rising cost of childcare.

Childcare providers are having to put up their fees, he added, due to mounting insurance prices and operating costs.

“Creche places come at a premium. I know of families, in which both parents work full time, who are now limited as they look for alternative childcare providers, or in some cases, seek support from family.”

Many service providers in Galway are severely overburdened, including children going on the waiting list for Mountbellew Community Childcare Centre before they are even born.

Galway East TD Anne Rabitte is introducing a bill which would exempt “buildings and land used exclusively by registered early years and school-aged childcare services providers from commercial rates.”

Commercial rates are set according to the Valuation Act of 2001, and an amendment to that act passed in 2015 exempted all non-profit service providers commercial rates, a benefit which Deputy Rabbitte is proposing the extend to all service providers.

Earlier this month 19 organisations in Galway that provide care services for children were awarded a total of €600,000 to create new spaces.

Concerns have been raised in many sectors that changes being made under the Childcare Support Act 2018 will lead to further increases in fees due to new regulations calling for one member of staff per 12 children.

Councillor Cheevers also said that more needs to be done to tackle rising insurance costs for providers with the Cost Insurance Working Group tabling issues such as efforts to crack down on insurance fraud.

“Business insurance is soaring,” he said, adding, “The government has yet to implement the recommendations of the Cost of Insurance Working Group and take the necessary steps to increase competition and tackle Ireland’s claim culture.”

Councillor Cheevers concluded with a warning that unless substantial changes are made “rising creche fees will become the norm for the foreseeable future.”