Childcare rebate not enough for families in 2017, Education Department says.

By political reporter Alexandra Beech.

New figures from the Department of Education show 3,600 families hit the annual cap on the childcare rebate just halfway through the financial year.

The data shows these families used up all their rebate by mid-January, leaving them with no Government support and full fees until the end of June.

The department figures show 94,000 families were expected to reach the cap by the end of the financial year.

The Government is using these figures to ramp up its calls for changes in the sector.

It wants to streamline multiple childcare subsidies into one means-tested payment, with the highest amount going to the lowest-income families.

It also wants to remove the annual cap on the amount of childcare rebate paid to most families, which is currently set around $7,500 per child for each financial year.

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For families earning more than $185,000 the annual limit would be increased to $10,000.

The Government has argued those changes should be paid for by cuts to family tax benefits and it has included both moves in its omnibus savings bill.

But that bill looks unlikely to pass the Senate.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham said the new department data showed change was urgently needed.

“It beggars belief that the Labor Party, meant to be the party of supporting families, is of course depriving those hard-working families of more support to actually go out, get to work, without the fear of childcare costs gobbling up all that they earn,” he said.

Current rebate figure is out of date, childcare provider says

The new data was in line with previous figures showing families were hitting the cap earlier and earlier each year.

Childcare provider Goodstart Early Learning estimated 114,000 families would hit the rebate cap this financial year.

It said the rebate lasted almost the entire year for a typical family in 2008, but would now last the same family only 30 weeks.

Senator Birmingham defended the Government’s failure to fix the problem sooner.

“The Government has been trying for some time to see our reforms implemented and we are seeking to do so and we’re ready and willing to negotiate,” he said.

“But Bill Shorten and the Labor Party have never come to the table.”

The Government’s changes to child care have been on the table since 2013.

This post originally appeared on ABC News.


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