Small business ombudsman urges affordable childcare
The small business ombudsman has asked the government for affordable childcare, warning that with the free childcare measure coming to an end, many women in small business will be faced with difficult decision.
The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell has said that for small business owners – many of whom are mothers – childcare has become unaffordable with the closure of the government's free childcare scheme, enacted to help the sector through the COVID-19 crisis.
Ms Carnell warned that many young families, working in small businesses and relying on JobKeeper, may be forced out of their jobs, which is detrimental to their business, their families and even worse for the economy.
“We know women make up more than a third of Australia’s small business owners (38 per cent) and more than 5 million women work in these businesses," said Ms Carnell.
Recent ABS labour force data shows women have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic, with the female participation rate falling dramatically.
“The government should be monitoring this situation very closely and be considering innovative ways to increase the participation rates for women to ensure productivity gains and to help those in their efforts to get their businesses back on track," the ASBFEO noted.
The ASBFEO's COVID-19 Recovery Plan makes the point that childcare is an essential service for parents in small businesses and needs to be affordable.
“There are a number of ways the government can do this, including making childcare tax-effective or by phasing in an expanded subsidy scheme, which the Grattan Institute estimates would deliver an $11 billion economic boost," Ms Carnell explained.
“Economists have long referred to the ‘double dividend’ of childcare increasing workforce participation rates and providing early education.
“Equally, the government should be monitoring the impact that the reinstatement of fees is having on childcare centres, many of which are small businesses, which have warned of dire consequences of the so-called snap-back to the previous system."