QUESTION to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Dr. James Reilly, TD)
For WRITTEN ANSWER on 16/12/2014
To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs his views on the financial burden caused by the application of commercial rates to providers of early childhood care and education services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Jerry Buttimer T.D.
I am aware of the concerns of childcare providers in relation to the levying of commercial rates on childcare services.
The issue of local authority commercial rates comes within the remit of the Department of Finance, which has responsibility for fiscal policy, and the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, which has responsibility for the local authorities.
The Valuation Office, which comes under the remit of the Department of Finance, is responsible for the implementation and interpretation of the Valuation Act 2001 under which commercial rates are levied by the local authorities. The Valuation Office prepares valuation lists of commercial properties, as required by the Act, and local authorities are obliged to collect rates on properties which are listed.
Following concerns expressed by childcare providers throughout the country, the issue of commercial rates on pre-school services was raised with the then Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Phil Hogan T.D. who confirmed that, in line with existing legislative framework, local authorities have no discretion in the collection of commercial rates on properties which are on the Valuation List. The concerns of childcare providers in relation to commercial rates were also brought to the attention of officials in the Department of Finance.
Officials from my Department also met with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in the context of the Valuation Bill currently going through the Houses of the Oireachtas and discussed the issue of commercial rates on pre-school services. The purpose of this meeting was for the provision of information, both historical and contextual, in relation to the childcare sector and at which my Department took the opportunity to express provider’s concerns.
The Seanad did recently approve an amendment to the Valuation Bill to exempt not-for-profit childcare providers from commercial rates. However, private commercial childcare providers continue to be subject to commercial rates except those whose funding is derived only through capitation provided under the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme.
As stated, responsibility for the Valuation Acts and the Valuation Office falls within the remit of the Minister for Finance and therefore any change to the Act including any provision for exemptions is a matter for that Department.