Fine Gael Dublin South West Senator Cáit Keane, has announced that childcare facilities providing only the Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme (ECCE), are exempt from paying commercial rates. Senator Keane was speaking after raising the issue of commercial rates for preschool facilities in the Seanad today (Thursday) with the Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD, as responsibility for the Valuation Office transferred to the Minister’s Department with effect from 1 January 2016.
“I have highlighted the inconsistences in interpretation and implementation of commercial rates on preschool facilities in the various local authorities right throughout the country. In November 2014, the Government approved a Seanad amendment to the Valuation Act 2001, which gave an exemption from rates to properties occupied by parties that provide early childhood care and education on a not-for-profit basis. However I felt that this did not go far enough. The many for-profit childcare facilities around the country offer an equally valuable service to the community, which should be supported.
“Thankfully we have achieved good progress on this today in the Seanad as the Minister confirmed to me that those childcare providers that provide only the Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme are also exempt from rates.
“The Minister said ‘In addition to the exemption of those that provide childcare and Early Education on a not-for-profit basis, the Valuation Office’s interpretation of paragraph 10 of Schedule 4 to the Valuation Act 2001 means that those that only provide the Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme (ECCE) are also exempt from rates.’
“I welcome this clarification of the Valuation Office’s interpretation of the legislation. This is a great step forward in the provision of and access to affordable quality childcare and is extremely welcome. I followed up on this news by asking the Minister to write to each Local Authority to ensure that this interpretation of the Valuation Office is implemented consistently across every county in Ireland.”