Zappone: Creches should not increase their fees unless they absolutely have to

The Children's Minister warned that unfair fee increases could lead to regulations such as price caps

Zappone: Creches should not increase their fees unless they absolutely have to

Katherine Zappone. Image: Sean Defoe

The Children's Minister says creches should not increase their fees unless they absolutely have to - and she has warned childcare operators of potential price caps if prices are raised unfairly.

As part of her bid to tackle the high cost of childcare, Katheirne Zappone introduced a universal support for pre-school children up to three years old.

Minister Zappone says 75% of childcare providers are now signed up to the scheme, which will give parents up to €1,040 a year.

However, there have been reports of childcare providers increasing their costs in line with the extra money parents will have.

Teresa Heeney from Early Childhood Ireland says the cost increase is because they badly need more Government money.

Speaking to The Pat Kenny Show, she argued: "Fees have to increase. Until the Government is providing 100% of the costs of the provision of early years service - where they're covering staff costs, where they're covering building costs, where they're covering insurance, where they're covering salary increases - until they're covering all of those, then these independent enterprises have to be able to sustain their service."

Minister Zappone, meanwhile, says increases must be because operators need it, and not just to take advantage of new supports.

She added that creche operators could face regulations such as price caps if fees are increased unfairly.

The Minister has also warned it may reduce her negotiating position with the Finance Minister if childcare providers are all increasing their costs to take advantage of the new payment.