ScoMo's budget: Can’t afford childcare? Get a nanny instead
FAMILIES crippled by high childcare costs are going to extreme lengths, including moving house and renovating, to make room for a live-in nanny.
Nanny agencies are being inundated with calls from parents, particularly in the upper income brackets, who are going to lose thousands of dollars a year in government payments when the new means-tested childcare subsidy comes into effect on July 2.
Under the changes, families earning more than $251,000 will receive at least 20 per cent of their out-of-pocket childcare expenses, while families earning more than $351,000 will get nothing.
Previously, all families could claim 50 per cent of their expenses, up to a cap of $7500.
Jackie Rylance, a founder of the Brisbane-based au pair provider Dream Nannies, said her agency could not keep up with demand.
"I have had to start screening calls, demand is growing so quickly," she said.
Ms Rylance said she was aware of families taking extraordinary steps, like moving house or undertaking major renovations, so they could have a separate living space for a nanny.
Families can secure a live-in nanny for under $800 a week, which is about $200 cheaper than having two children in daycare for a five-day week without the government rebate.
Rob Graya, a partner in high-end residential building business Graya Construction, said his business was being swamped with requests to build homes with separate living spaces that could be used by nannies.
"I have definitely noticed this trend in the descriptions and briefings our clients are giving us, particularly at the high end of the market," he said.
Father-of-four Glenn Kirby said he and his wife were looking at moving house so they had more room for an au pair.
With two-year-old son Benji in long daycare, and their elder three children in after school care, Mr Kirby said an au pair worked out "a whole lot cheaper for us".
"We pay the same amount for two days of childcare as we do for an au pair for a week," he said.
Nicole Lessio from advocacy group The Parenthood said the childcare bills of about 14,000 families would increase because of the means test.
Ms Lessio said pressures on the family budget often drove parents to consider au pairs, who generally don't have the same early-learning qualifications as staff in formal daycare.
"We know early education is really important for kids, and that is an opportunity missed for those children," she said.
Education Minister Simon Birmingham said the new childcare subsidy scheme was "very generous".
"It's estimated that our new system will encourage more than 230,000 families to increase their workforce participation," he said.