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Hand holding house made of euro notes - Update on Commercial Rates: Changes proposed by Fianna Fáil

Update on Commercial Rates: Changes proposed by Fianna Fáil

July 17, 2019

As members know, the application of commercial rates to many private  settings can contribute significantly to the cost of running an early years service. This is viewed as unfair  given that private primary and secondary schools are not liable for these charges.

Early Childhood Ireland is committed to advocating for the abolition of these fees on behalf of our members, and has an ongoing tracking process for the matter in the Oireachtas.

We recently submitted a Parliamentary Question on commercial rates to the Minister through Anne Rabbitte TD, Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson on Children and Youth affairs. Please click here to view the question and response. The central point of the Minister’s response is that it is the Minister for Housing planning and Local Government who has responsibility for setting rates. The Minister goes on to say that:

“Most recently I contacted the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, requesting reconsideration of the position of private childcare facilities in respect of their rateability for commercial rates.  It was confirmed that there are no proposals under consideration for a discount of commercial rates for private childcare providers, and that the Commissioner of Valuation has no discretionary latitude to grant exemptions not covered by Schedule 4 of the Act.”

We were disappointed by the Minister’s response that there are no current government proposals to deal with the issue.

Two days later, on July 11, a Bill was introduced in the Dáil by Deputy Anne Rabbitte. The Valuation (Amendment) Bill 2019 will seek to change the regulations as outlined by the Minister, so that early years settings would be exempt from paying. You can see the details of the bill here. However, as this is what is known as a “Private Members Bill”, it will most likely move through the Dáil very slowly and can take years to complete. Early Childhood Ireland welcomes this action by Deputy Rabbitte and we will be tracking the progress and will keep members informed of developments as they happen.

The issue was also raised in the Seanad last week by  former Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Senator James Reilly, when he spoke on the new rates legislation that the government is bringing forward. You can see his short contribution here. This legislation, unlike the one introduced by Deputy Rabbitte, will, on the face of it, have no effect on early years settings. It is good however to see TDs and Senators engaging on the issue of commercial rates and we will hopefully see the issue raised more frequently in the Dáil in the future. For our part, the Policy team in Early Childhood Ireland will continue to raise the rates and other issues with Oireachtas members and encourage them to support changes to the current system that will benefit sector. Members can contact us by email anytime with questions or about any concerns.

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