That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend the Valuation Act 2001 to exempt childcare services providers from commercial rates.
Childcare is a vital public service and childcare service providers play an important role in fostering the healthy development of children while reducing educational inequalities. As it stand, however, we do not have a fair system and parents are paying a heavy price. Childcare costs are raised repeatedly with me by constituents. Commercial rates are a significant expense for childcare services providers with many paying tens of thousands of euro under that heading alone. Rates are often forced up, which increases the cost base for parents paying for services. This Bill proposes a simple fix for this problem. This issue is one of the core contributors to the cost base of private sector providers who have come to me and it is driving up the cost of childcare. While the affordable childcare scheme is very welcome, providers tell us that if there were no rates on childcare facilities, it would make a significant difference.