North-east parents face being hit by soaring childcare costs after nurseries were snubbed by a government cap on rates.
Angry playschool owners have claimed the increases in business rates, which will come into affect in April, will cause fees to rise across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.
One provider said his bills were rising by 75% – while those of his global oil firm neighbours were kept low.
And another said she was considering boycotting the increase altogether by refusing to pay.
Last night Banchory based primary teacher Louise Warnock, said childcare was already costly for her family.
And the mum-of-three said it was “not worth her while” going back to work full time until her children were all old enough to go to school.
Mrs Warnock said she is already facing a private nursery bill of £105 per day for her two children aged under two.
However, when she goes back to work she will stand to earn approximately £120 per day – netting a benefit of just £15.
She said: “I only want to go back part-time at the moment, if only to secure a job for the future. It wouldn’t be worth my time going back full-time just now, but perhaps one day I will when all the kids are in school.
“I would be outraged if the prices had to go up higher – they are already extortionate – I won’t be able to do anything about it though.”
Finance secretary Derek Mackay bowed to intense pressure last week and announced a £44million package to ease the burden on outfits feeling the squeeze from the oil and gas slump.
Office space in the north-east will not see bills rise more than 12.5% in April – and the same relief was extended to hotels, pubs and cafes.
But while the initiative was welcomed by the hospitality industry and other firms, nurseries were among those told they will get no help.
Graham Mogford owns the Bridges Nurseries in Westhill and Bridge of Don and is facing an increase in the rateable value on each of his properties from £65,000 to £112,000 from April 1.
Mr Mogford said: “Our neighbour, here in Westhill, is a multinational company with an annual turnover of $20billion and profits of $2.5billion.
“The proposed increase on their rateable value is only 21.8% which may be capped at 12.5% for 12 months, under current proposals.
“There has never been a reasonable argument for taxing the care of children but central Government have been deaf to the small voices of childcare providers who have been unable to raise this issue sufficiently, to get some level of recognition or even fair play.
“As a final insult, because we provide large playrooms, to meet mandatory space standards set by the government, we are classed as a big business and charged extra supplementary rates.
“All these taxes must then be passed on to the children who use our service and their parents, most of whom cannot understand why and we can offer no reasonable or logical explanation.”
Meanwhile Linda Pirrie, manager of three Croft Nurseries in Stonehaven, said that parents would have to pay more as she will have to stump up an extra £38,000.
She said she did not rule out joining Marcliffe hotel owner Stewart Spence and refuse to pay any increases.
She said: “Why should our parents have to face rises because of something we have no control over?
“We’ve heard that 75% of businesses in Stonehaven are not paying anything at all. How is it fair that we have to pay so much?”
City council finance convener Willie Young said the situation was “absolutely ridiculous” and called on Holyrood to give the same priority to the north-east as it had to the struggling steel industry.
In a letter to Mr Mackay, he said the government had used “the power to make different provisions in relation to different areas and different classes of land and heritages” in that case and should do so again.
The city council is due to discuss next month whether it will follow the lead of Aberdeenshire and offer a wider relief scheme.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “On top of our business rates package, which will deliver an overall tax cut of £155million next year, we have listened to businesses and are now providing further targeted support for particular sectors and localities where it is most needed.
“The total rates relief package is now worth over £660million, and councils are empowered to apply further reductions to address any local issues as they see fit.
“We note that Aberdeenshire Council has proposed a £3million rates relief scheme, while Aberdeen City Council has chosen not to use its powers.”
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