One in five creches 'will raise their fees'
Hundreds of creches are set to defy Children's Minister Katherine Zappone and hike their fees - just as new financial supports for parents kick in.
Childcare providers say they have been left with no choice due to the extra costs of running the Affordable Childcare Scheme.
Figures from Early Childhood Ireland (ECI), which represents 3,500 childcare providers, said one in five of its members intend to raise fees.
The average increase was 6pc, which ECI said is the equivalent of €8 a child per week in a Dublin creche.
The largest planned jump in charges was 8pc.
Raising fees, just as parents are to benefit by up to €20 a week under the Government's new childcare support, has led to calls for a regulator to be established to monitor charges.
At the scheme's launch yesterday in Tallaght, Ms Zappone said she will act against providers who try to take advantage, and warned that price caps could be brought in.
"The evidence to date is that the majority of the providers today are not increasing their fees. Up to 80pc are not and, if they are, it's approximately a 6pc increase in fees," she said.
"It's important as a provider, if you don't need to increase your fees, then don't.
"If your costs are going up and you need to increase them, then consult your parents - find out what's the best way to do that.
"But, if I find that there is a pattern throughout the country where providers are taking a significant amount of the subsidies which are intended to support parents and then they can't demonstrate that relationship to cost, then I will take some action."
Ms Zappone said that this would involve "some sort of regulation" that is tied to a creche's use of the Government scheme, or a ceiling on charges.