Government warning issued to creches on hiking fees

Financial aid package worth almost €300m for sector will cover any losses, says Minister

More than 85% of childcare services normally open over the summer have reopened and more will open next week, according the Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman. File photograph: Getty

More than 85% of childcare services normally open over the summer have reopened and more will open next week, according the Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman. File photograph: Getty

 

The Government is warning childcare providers not to increase fees as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

Moreover, the Coalition is insisting that an almost €300 million financial aid package for the sector will cover any losses. Unveiling the supports, Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman said it will allow creches and other childcare providers to operate with less children and more costs as a result of the pandemic.

This will mean providers do not need to pass on increased costs to parents through increased fees, he said.

A key element of the financial aid package is access for childcare providers to the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme – which is to replace the temporary wage subsidy scheme – from August 24th until the end of the year.

Childcare providers will also get a “special exemption” to the turnover rule in the scheme.

Mr O’Gorman said the measure will cover 38 per cent of the running costs of creches and other childcare services.

A “sustainability fund” will also be opened to providers who can prove the financial supports are “not sufficient by themselves to enable viable operation of their business”.

Furthermore, rules around attendance hours of children for services to qualify for existing supports are to be relaxed given “the likelihood in greater variability in patterns of usage” of childcare until the end of the year.

Mr O’Gorman said other supports for the wider economy may also be available to qualifying childcare providers, including a six-month waiver on commercial rates, restart grants and the credit-guarantee scheme.

Extra costs?

“This comprehensive package of measures will help services already open to stay open. And it will help all those other childcare and early education services that are due to open at the end of August/early September to do so,” he said.

“This €300 million package to the end of the year also prevents parents from having to pay higher fees to cover extra Covid-related costs.”

More than 85 per cent of childcare services that are normally open over the summer have reopened and more will open next week, said Mr O’Gorman.