HIGH RATES OF PLAY: Clarence childcare costs increase
CHILDCARE fees have risen faster in the Clarence Valley than in much of the country, new data shows.
According to data from the Federal Government's Childcare in Australia Report March Quarter childcare fees in the Clarence Valley have risen by more than 10 per cent in a year.
Labor Senator Jenny McAllister criticised the 11.9 per cent rise between March 2018 and March 2019 and said it was evidence the government's childcare changes had "completely failed at putting downward pressure on fees".
"At a time when cost of living is increasing and wages are stagnating, families are being crippled under ever-increasing childcare fees," she said.
However, Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan said alongside a $2.4billion increase in funding from 2013 to 2019, the Government's changes to childcare had made the system "better for lower income families".
"Eighty five per cent of childcare fees are now subsidised by the government for families earning up to $66,958," he said.
Funding "has grown from $6.2 billion in 2013 to $8.6 billion in 2019."
The childcare subsidy introduced in 2018 consolidated multiple payments to assist with childcare fees into one payment.
That payment is means tested against household earnings.
The rate gradually reduces to 50 percent for those earning $172,000 before reducing to 20 per cent for those earning $341,000.
Mr Hogan attributed the rise in fees to increased demand following unprecedented infrastructure spending in the region and that setting childcare fees was not the role of government but "a business decision for each service".
"With the families this has brought to our region, who are working on these projects, it has led to an increased demand for childcare services," he said.
"That being said, the average fee for childcare in the Clarence Valley is $9.13 per hour and $8.89 per hour in the Richmond Valley. These are both below the national average."
The data released by the government showed national average fee per hour for centre-based day care was $9.95.
But Ms McAllister said the government did not have a clear mechanism to contain price increases and "the proof was in the data".
"Fees in Australia have now increased by a staggering 30 per cent since the election of the Liberals."
"The Government needs to take this seriously and acknowledge the system does not appear to be working as it was intended.
"The Government must act to ensure affordable, accessible and high quality early education and care for families in our community."
Similar cost increases were felt by Coffs Harbour whose average rose by 12 per cent to $9.26.