Childcare fees on rise but parents will pay for quality, says MP

PARENTS are willing to pay more for childcare and prefer to have government rebates paid directly into their accounts, according to a survey by the Labor MP and economist Andrew Leigh.

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, is considering a shake-up of the system including paying childcare centres the rebate directly in exchange for moderated fee rises.

Dr Leigh surveyed 250 of his constituents this month, finding a ''surprisingly large number'' of parents in his higher income Canberra electorate were more likely to say they would pay more for high quality care. Overall, 55 per cent of parents said they would pay more. But only one-third of people chose to have the childcare rebate paid directly to the centre, an option that lowers people's out of pocket expenses.

The government is reconsidering its childcare policy after research showed fees increased by an average of 11 per cent last year.

But Dr Leigh's research demonstrates that paying centre's directly would be politically difficult for the government, which would have to make the case to people who prefer to have the money in their own accounts.

In an attempt to find further savings in the budget the question of means testing the childcare rebate, which pays parents up to $7500 a year towards their childcare costs, will again be raised.

It has been considered previously but knocked back by senior ministers, including Ms Gillard, who believe it acts as an important incentive for women returning to the workforce.

The story Childcare fees on rise but parents will pay for quality, says MP first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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