Affordable childcare essential for small business

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell says there is an urgent need for universal access to high-quality, affordable childcare and early education as women and families work to get their small businesses back up and running.

“The latest data from the Productivity Commission shows there was a 21.7% rise in the number of parents and carers in Australia who didn’t work due to childcare care costs in 2020, compared to the previous year.

“According to those figures, 90,000 Australian parents stayed out of the workforce last year because the cost of childcare was too high.”

Ms Carnell says that currently in Australia, childcare takes “an average of 27% of household income”.

“For women and families in small businesses, particularly those that are relying on JobKeeper or still in the process of recovering from the Covid-19 crisis, childcare is unaffordable,” she says.

Ms Carnell calls on the government to make childcare more affordable by making it “more tax-effective” or “by phasing in an expanded subsidy scheme as recommended by the Grattan Institute, estimated to deliver an $11 billion boost to the economy”.

“Crucially, affordable childcare would allow more [parents and carers] to work on growing their businesses – an important contribution to Australia’s economic recovery,” says Ms Carnell.

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