Childcare review gives nannies the nod

Canberra [AAP]

United Voice is the union which represents children’s services in Australia.

United Voice is the union which represents children’s services in Australia.

A major childcare review has recommended boosting subsidies for low to middle income families with a means-tested sliding scale of support, including funding for nannies.

The release of the Productivity Commission’s final report comes weeks after prime minister Tony Abbott abandoned his generous paid parental leave scheme.

The commission recommends streamlining government childcare assistance into a single subsidy with a sliding scale.

The subsidy would cover between 85 per cent of childcare costs for families with incomes at or below $60,000 and 20 per cent for families earning $250,000 or above.

It would cover 100 hours of care per fortnight for children aged under 13 years who have parents who work or study at least 24 hours a fortnight.

The report says under the changes childcare is likely to be more affordable for families with incomes up to $130,000.

Social services minister Scott Morrison said the Productivity Commission made some important conclusions about how to help women stay in work and return to employment after having children.

He’s open to the idea of government support for nannies.

‘I certainly think we have to look at that how we can support it,’ he told ABC Radio on Friday.

‘The commission’s recommendations are based on a relatively budget-neutral position and to go well beyond what is there would obviously require offsets and savings.’

Asked if some of the quality controls, put in place under the previous Labor government and which contributed to increased childcare costs, should be wound back, Mr Morrison said it was a matter for state governments.

United Voice, which represents childcare workers, says the only way to fix the childcare crisis is to invest the entirety of the now-scrapped $5.5 billion paid parental leave scheme into quality long day care.

‘Parents should be no worse off by these changes,’ national secretary David O’Byrne said.

Many families found the childcare system difficult to navigate and inflexible.

The report recommends assistance be simpler and better targeted.

Mr Morrison said the government would consult with the sector and opposition parties as it shapes its childcare package.

‘For middle and low income families, in particular, the decision to go back to work is not a choice, but a necessity,’ he said in a statement.

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