Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Half true. Bureaucracy has pushed up child care fees 22 per cent

Adding bureaucracy such as child care centre ratings "has pushed your fees up 22 per cent in two years"

Coalition childcare spokesman Sussan Ley, May 1 2013

The Coalition’s childcare spokesman Susan Ley blames bureaucracy for rising childcare fees. And she is specific. She says added requirements such as those needed to put childcare centre ratings on the MyChild website has “pushed your fees up 22 per cent in two years”.

Supporting evidence

When shown the claim on Ms Ley’s website her staff pointed to the Bureau of Statistics measure of childcare costs in the consumer price index.

It shows childcare costs have climbed 18 per cent in the past two years, not 22 per cent. Her staff then said they based the claim on a parliamentary library paper that found an 23.7 per cent jump between the September 2010 and June 2013 quarters. There was such a jump, but it was over almost three years, not the claimed two.

Does it stack up?

Ms Ley’s claim is not merely that childcare fees have climbed 22 per cent, but that they have climbed 22 per cent because of bureaucracy such as the “new childcare centre ratings now being posted on the Government’s mychild website”.

In the past two years wage costs have climbed 7 per cent. In the period in which the childcare price index has climbed 23.7 per cent wage costs have climbed 10 per cent. As as Ms Ley’s leader Tony Abbott pointed out on Monday, electricity prices have soared. In the period in which the childcare index climbed 23.7 per cent, electricity prices jumped 27 per cent.

So there’s more to rising fees than added bureaucracy.

And fees after rebates (which is what the Bureau measures) are much lower than they used to be. In 2007 during the final year of the Coalition government childcare fees after rebates were 22 per cent higher than they are now. Increasingly generous rebates, lifted towards the end Howard’s last term and made more generous in Rudd’s first term, have pushed childcare costs back to where they were in 2005. That’s what the ABS figures identified by Ms Ley’s office show.

Ms Ley’s office says the centres she has visited have told her the new requirements are pushing up costs. Some have had to hire more staff. It’s anecdotal evidence and hard to quantify.


Politifact rates the Coalition’s claim that increased bureaucracy pushed childcare fees up 22 per cent in two years “half true”.

With Ellie Harvey, in Politifact and The Sydney Morning Herald

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