Fact sheet

Fact Check: Alan Tudge says the Coalition has increased childcare subsidies by 77 per cent since coming to office. Is he correct?

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Minister for Education and Youth, Alan Tudge, claimed in Parliament during Question Time that: "We've increased childcare subsidies by 77 per cent since we came to office". Childcare subsidies can be measured either as the total spent by the government or the amount spent per child.

Expenditure on childcare subsidies has risen under the Coalition, but not by as much as Mr Tudge claims. In addition, government support can be considered solely as means-tested fee assistance paid according to family income or that support plus industry payments made to service providers. Fact Check has taken these different measures into account in assessing Mr Tudge's claim and each falls short of a 77 per cent increase during the Coalition's term. 

When it comes to the primary direct assistance for families, departmental annual reports and budget papers show that between 2012-13 and the estimated spending for 2020-21, childcare subsidies are expected to have increased by 63 per cent once adjusted for inflation. When funding to support the childcare industry is added, overall expenditure is expected to have risen by 71 per cent, in real terms, over the same period. This figure is close to Mr Tudge's claim. But industry support in 2020-21 was significantly boosted by temporary emergency COVID-19 payments to childcare providers.

The recent budget estimated that without these one-off payments, overall expenditure for 2021-22 will come in at 59 per cent above 2012-13 spending, in inflation-adjusted terms. The corresponding pre-pandemic increase to 2019-20 was 43 per cent.

Finally, the Productivity Commission reports on several "per child" measures, including spending per child in approved childcare services, and a broader category of spending per child on early childhood education and care. On these measures, subsidies increased by 12 per cent and 30 per cent respectively between 2012-13 and 2019-20, the most recent data available.

On the question of whether the Coalition can take credit for these rises in expenditure, experts told Fact Check that increases had less to do with Coalition policy and more to do with growth in the system. They chiefly related to rapidly rising fees and increasing numbers of children in care.

Verdict: Mr Tudge's claim is exaggerated.


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