herald

Sunday 26 January 2020

Scheme 'using taxpayers' cash to subsidise insurance companies'

Katherine Zappone. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Katherine Zappone. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

A one-off payment being provided by the Government to bail out childcare providers has been slammed as "using taxpayers' money to subsidise highly profitable insurance companies".

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone announced yesterday that childcare providers will receive a payment averaging €1,500 to deal with extra insurance and administrative costs.

The move comes despite Taoiseach Leo Varadkar telling the Dail it would be "totally reckless" for the State to cover insurance costs for creches.

Premiums

The payment is in response to up to 1,300 childcare providers being affected by soaring insurance premiums after underwriter Ironshore withdrew from the Irish market.

Insurance broker Padraic Smith & Co informed customers on Monday that it was unable to secure an alternative insurer and now creches are being faced with premiums up to three times higher.

Ms Zappone said payments will be issued by December 28 and will range from €1,500 to up to €26,000. She said the payments will depend on the number of children being cared for in creches and whether they are part-time or full-time.

However, the move has been criticised by some TDs who have accused the Government of simply lining the pockets of insurers.

Fianna Fail TD Robert Troy said he has a "huge issue" with the fact Ms Zappone never met with Ironshore and that she hasn't met with Arachas to discuss the lowering of premiums.

"It is simply sticking a plaster on the matter and will get some childcare providers out the gap until Christmas," he said.

"We are now using taxpayer money to subsidise a highly profitable insurance company."

Meanwhile, creche owners who are not a member of Early Childhood Ireland, have queried why ECI members are being offered a 30pc discount on insurance with Arachas.

Fianna Fail TD Anne Rabbitte said she welcomed that the Government has taken some form of action on the issue, but also had concerns about ECI members being offered a discount since ECI does not lower a creche's risk rating.

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