That leave be granted to introduce Bill entitled an Act to require all childcare providers to provide price notices outlining the prices charged for each of their services in their physical premises and on any online platform which their business maintains for the purposes of advertising their services; and to allow the Minister to establish a National Childcare Price Register.
Today I bring the Childcare Price Transparency Bill 2018 before the House. This Bill seeks to bring price transparency to the childcare market, as we have done with other services such as dentistry and property. Currently there is no statutory obligation or requirement on childcare providers to be open and transparent about the fees they charge for services. If a parent wishes to ascertain how much each childcare provider in their area charges, they are likely to have to make a direct inquiry with the childcare provider themselves. This makes it very difficult for parents to determine the level of childcare pricing in their area. This Bill will require all registered childcare providers to display a full list of prices in their establishment as well as on websites and other pages they operate, and to submit their price data to a central price register similar to the residential property price register. This will allow parents to shop around online as well as in person.
This Bill will go some way towards supporting parents who are now paying a second mortgage in childcare fees. The most recent Pobal survey found that on average, one childcare place costs €176 per week in urban areas. In the likes of Dublin and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, however, the average weekly price is approximately €228. The reason I am bringing this Bill forward is that, when Pobal carried out its recent survey, only 84% of all childcare providers completed the documentation. It is very unfortunate that there was not 100% uptake. It is obviously not mandatory and providers do not feel that they have an obligation to engage with the funders, which are Pobal and the State.
We are now extending the early childhood care and education, ECCE, scheme to more than 4,500 childcare providers nationwide. Some 75,000 children take up spaces every single year. It is incumbent on us to support the parents in letting them know exactly how clear and transparent it is. This Bill will allow all parents to shop around. It will also be of assistance to agencies. When the Government makes plans for childcare and peaks and troughs are observed in the market prices, we will be able to get behind it and understand exactly why. That is why I am bringing this Bill forward, and I thank the Ceann Comhairle for giving me the opportunity to introduce it.