Council to look at ‘nominal’ rate for childcare facilities

Cavan County Council has agreed to examine the possibility of imposing a “nominal” commercial rates fee on local childcare facilities in future.

It comes amid mounting pressure on local and national government to recognise the role of early year providers as educators in their own right.

The request came from Fianna Fáil’s Áine Smith, who previously urged the council to write to the Department of Housing and the Valuation Office asking them to de-rate the sector.

Cllr Smith said that, despite EU and national level official documentation referring to preschool childcare services as early years education, the providers themselves are still being charged rates. Primary and secondary schools are exempt from such rates.

The council has previously written to Tailte Éireann on the issue. Tailte Éireann is the new State agency from the merger of the Property Registration Authority, the Valuation Office and Ordnance Survey Ireland.

A response arrived and was communicated to councillors at the September monthly meeting of Cavan County Council.

It stated that the act ‘maintains the long-standing position that properties including private schools and private childcare facilities, such as play schools, pre-schools, creches, and Montessori schools, that are established for the purpose of making profit, are liable for rates’.

It adds that there are a number of avenues an occupier has to seek redress, that includes an appeal to the Valuation Tribunal, and above that the higher courts.

Addressing the reply in the council chamber, Cllr Smith once again voiced an opinion that childcare providers should be afforded the status of educators, and that they were “entitled to be derated”.

Alternatively, she asked that the council impose a “nominal fee”.

A member of the council’s executive committed at the meeting to following up Cllr’s Smith’s recommendation.