CANBERRA—Changes to childcare assistance, coupled with expected income tax cuts, could leave working mothers up to $7,000 a year better off, Treasurer Wayne Swan said today.
Mr Swan, working on ways to ease the inflation burden in his first federal budget next month, released Treasury estimates on the benefits for working mothers of the two policy changes.
He said the childcare reforms due on July 1 and the $31 billion tax cuts promised in last year's election campaign would bring relief from the past situation in which mothers gained little reward for working extra hours outside the home.
An average family with both parents working five days a week and two kids in childcare will see their household income rise by $136 per week.
In households where the mother works two days per week, they will receive a boost of $71 to weekly income.
The figures are drawn from Treasury modelling in which an average family consists of a father earning $50,000 per year, a mother being paid $19 per hour and two children in long daycare.
For those working mothers who qualify, the estimates are for annual savings of between $3,600 and $7,000.
"We are adamant that working families of Australia have earned this relief," Mr Swan said.
"It is their hard work which has made our economy strong.
"It aims to reward mums who work a few extra hours to pay the bills."
Mr Swan said there was no doubt working families were under enormous pressure from rising interest rates, fuel costs, groceries and other expenses.
"It is not good enough when a mum goes back to work or works a few additional hours and she does not receive in her hand the extra money, which is taken away in extra childcare costs or tax," Mr Swan said.
"Working mothers deserve some incentive."
Mr Swan reiterated the government's intention to honour the tax cuts promised in the election campaign.
"These changes will be delivered in full as promised, as the Rudd government takes its promises and commitments very seriously," he said.
Families Australia chief executive Brian Babington welcomed the expected benefits for working mothers but wants to see the benefits spread widely for families doing it tough under increasing household pressures.
"It seems like really good news for families, particularly working mums," Mr Babington said.
"Anything that the government can do to strengthen the families is really good news, particularly in this area where we may be able to offer tax cuts and increase the availability of childcare as well."
Mr Babington said the government had got the message that working mothers were many in number and were finding it very difficult to meet mortgage payments and to balance work and family responsibilities.
"That's not to exclude those other families which are not in those situations, where there is not employment, and they're properly catered for as well," he said.
"I can only hope that these tax measures are nuanced in such a way that enables a greater number of mums and families to access this.
"I'm hoping that, as well as families who can take advantage of those measures, the government is also going to, in this budget, try and reach those families who are really struggling with poverty (and) unemployment, to try and make life better for them too."
Women's Electoral Lobby chairwoman Eva Cox agreed some mothers may miss out on the budget assistance and would be disappointed.
"Because they haven't got a child in childcare or because they fall outside those particular income brackets, they're not going to be helped very much at all," she said.