Families ‘ helped’ by being paid less
FAMILIES relying on the new child care payment promised by a federal government website are about to get a rude shock — they won’t get the full fortnightly subsidy to “protect” them from over-claiming.
The government’s online child care subsidy estimator shows the maximum payment each family will receive but, from July, all families will receive 10 per cent less, which the government claims will prevent bill shock at the end of the financial year.
A disclaimer in a dropdown menu on the website does show how much the government will withhold.
Chief executive of advocacy group The Parenthood, Jo Briskey, said the government had been promoting the full subsidies, not the reduced amount. “Families are interested in the immediate out-ofpocket costs,” Ms Briskey said. “I think a lot of parents will feel like they have been misled.”
Education Minister Simon Birmingham said the government was “protecting parents from over-claiming”.
“A small amount of child care payments have always been withheld for families until the end of the financial year so they don’t get a shock if they’ve over-estimated their entitlements,” he said. “That amount is going to get even smaller under our changes.”
Labor’s childcare spokeswoman Amanda Rishworth accused the government of imposing a “tax on families by stealth. The government is treating all families like they already owe a debt to the Commonwealth, making clear they don’t trust families”.
Labor has slammed the system, saying low income families budget week-to-week and will now be forced to wait a full year before being reimbursed.
Mr Birmingham told a Senate estimates hearing last week that 10 per cent of the new childcare subsidies will be withheld from parents until the end of the financial year, in case families incorrectly estimate their income and work levels. The Sunday Telegraph understands the department will consider case-by-case requests by some families on fixed incomes to receive the full amount each fortnight.