The SIPTU Big Start Early Years Committee in County Mayo is set to challenge the levying of commercial rates on Early Years education services at a meeting with the Director of Finance of Mayo County Council on Tuesday (5th June). The Mayo SIPTU Big Start campaign co-ordinator, Ann O’Reilly, said: “Mayo Childcare Services recently received a call from the County Council in relation to new proposed commercial rates. Several other Early Years education providers have also received notification of initial liabilities for commercial rates. These charges would be financially crippling within the childcare sector, placing huge additional pressure on services which are already struggling to stay open.” She added: “The introduction of rates, or an increase in rates, will heighten the risk of service closures around the county. This will have devastating consequences not only for providers, but also for parents, with services likely having to discontinue after-school and breakfast club facilities.” Chairperson of the Mayo Big Start Early Years Committee, Avril Green, said: “Members of the campaign committee will be meeting the Director of Finance of Mayo County Council with Ann O’Reilly. There is no standardised approach to the levying of commercial rates in the Early Years sector or in the criteria used to determine the valuation process. Through our Big Start campaign committee representing childcare workers and providers in Mayo, we have an opportunity to make our views known on this pressing issue.” She added: “The childcare sector has been under-funded by successive governments for years. Under the current funding model, Early Years facilities are struggling financially. Commercial rates are crippling Early Years educational facilities. This cannot be allowed to continue and we look forward to a robust discussion with the Council on this issue.”