Childcare costs have rocketed 150 per cent in the past decade, a report shows. Source: AAP
WORKING mothers are losing 60 cents of each dollar they earn to rising childcare costs but Australia's politicians haven't found a way to ease the situation for now.
INSTEAD they're blaming each other for the worsening crisis in childcare affordability.Childcare costs have skyrocketed 150 per cent in the past decade, with only electricity and tobacco prices rising at a faster rate, a new report claims.Parents returning to full-time work after having a child can now expect to lose up to 60 per cent of their gross income to childcare fees, loss of benefits and higher income tax rates.Mums from low income families who return to full-time work may take home as little as $4.55 an hour, the research from financial services firm AMP and the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling found.Assistant education minister Sussan Ley regularly meets women juggling childcare with returning to work."There is crisis and struggle and desperation when you talk to mums who just don't know what to do with the work-family balance," she told reporters in Melbourne."It's not fair for families to have to live within a system that is as unsustainable as the one that Labor has left us with."The Productivity Commission is due to deliver its initial report on childcare to the government next month and the final version in October.Ms Ley expects the government will have some solutions for parents in early 2015.But the opposition says the government can do one thing to help right now: abandon plans to freeze childcare payments."They cannot justify standing up and attacking low and middle income families time and time again and this report shows that Australia can't afford it," opposition childcare spokeswoman Kate Ellis said.Labor was worried many women wouldn't return to the workforce after having children because of the difficulty of finding and paying for childcare.The AMP-NATSEM report said 630,000 Australian families pay for "long day" childcare, which can cost up to $170 a day per child.The national average childcare fee has risen 150 per cent since 2004. Childcare generally costs more in cities compared to regional areas and more in wealthier suburbs than less affluent areas.Fees have risen faster than petrol, education and healthcare costs.While the number of children in childcare has risen steadily over the past decade, about 60 per cent of children from working families are still cared for by grandparents, relatives or friends.