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Australian families spend twice as much for childcare as they are for food according to exclusive survey

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Author: 
Scarr, Lanai
Publication Date: 
5 Aug 2017
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EXCERPTS

More than a third of Australian families are paying twice as much for childcare as they are spending on food, while another third admit the cost of childcare has forced them to be late paying their bills.

These are just some of the worrying statistics from an exclusive survey that shows how much pain parents are enduring to put children to childcare.

And it proves that you are not alone in suffering from childcare bill shock.

Close to 40 per cent of families are paying more than or equal to their mortgage in out of pocket payments each week.

Close to a third are paying double their grocery bills - after the government rebate - and one in five are paying triple their weekly grocery shop.

Alarmingly, 34 per cent of respondents in the survey conducted by The Parenthood said they have been late paying their bills, mortgage or rent because of childcare.

A total of 21 per cent said they are basically working to pay for childcare with 57 per cent only marginally better off working.

Despite the recently legislated changes to childcare to come into force in July 2018, many hardworking professional families said childcare costs will still cripple their weekly budget.

Two-thirds believe the cost of childcare is holding them back in their career and some families are even putting off having more children because they cannot afford the huge fees.

Others are racking up enormous debts on their credit cards just to keep up with childcare costs.

OECD figures show that Australia's maternal employment rate has remained stuck at around 64 per cent since 2008, well below many comparable countries and 20 points lower than Sweden.

The cost of childcare has also increased much more rapidly than inflation or wage growth.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, from 2012 to 2017 wages increased by 12.6 per cent while childcare costs increased by 44.3 per cent.

Education Department data shows for the 2016-17 financial year, 62,233 families reached the $7500 Child Care Rebate cap, up from 51,138 families in 2015-16 - a 21.6 per cent increase.

However, once tax returns are reconciled the department projects 94,000 families would have hit the cap and have been paying the full childcare cost out of pocket.

Nicole Lessio, acting executive director of The Parenthood, said costs were pushing parents to "breaking point".

"We should be investigating all options to make it more affordable including enabling fees to be salary-sacrificed or used as tax deductions," Ms Lessio said.

John Cherry, advocacy manager at Goodstart Early Learning - Australia's largest childcare provider - said childcare was much more expensive than it should be because of under-investment by the government.

"We think early learning was the missing chapter of Gonski," Mr Cherry said.

"The 22 per cent of children who don't get good access to early learning because of cost restrictions are the same 22 per cent that start behind in their schooling, that get lower NAPLAN scores, and that don't get a job later on in life. It's that serious."

WHAT THE NEWS CORP SURVEY FOUND

Of the 1191 respondents
96 per cent used childcare
46 per cent pay $101-$125 per day
20 per cent pay even more
21 per cent say they're working to pay childcare
29 per cent paying double their grocery bills for childcare
18 per cent pay triple their weekly grocery bill
21 per cent pay the same as their mortgage
18 per cent pay more than their mortgage
34 per cent late paying their bills, mortgage or rent because of childcare
66 per cent believe cost of childcare is holding them back

-reprinted from The Advertiser

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Entered Date: 
8 Aug 2017
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