Childcare cheats to be targeted

CHILDCARE cheats will be targeted by a Coalition taskforce set up to nab dodgy rebate claims.

Federal Education Assistant Minister Sussan Ley said the taskforce would investigate suspicious childcare rebate claims and conduct random checks of payment compliance through shared intelligence with the tax office and state government.

``Services and parents found to be making bogus claims face a range of penalties, including service suspension and cancellation, paying back incorrectly-claimed payments and fines of over $100,000,'' Ms Ley said.

Launceston childcare providers said a loophole allowed parents to enrol kids in childcare and use enrolment documents to gain free rebate money.

They would then remove their children from care without paying a cent to childcare centres, or enrol in another centre to claim the money twice.

The crackdown has been introduced alongside today's release of the Productivity Commission's draft into Child Care and Early Childhood Learning, which recommended a single means-tested childcare payment, paid directly to childcare providers.

Other key recommendations supported:

  •  A nanny system, where nannies would be eligible to receive childcare subsidies.
  •  A continuation of government funding for 15-hour kindergarten.
  •  Increasing childcare funding for children with disabilities.

Northern Children's Network chief executive Steve Yates said scrapping the childcare benefit and rebate to create a single payment for parents would improve a confusing system and benefit everyone.

Mr Yates said closing the dodgy payment loopholes, which most childcare providers had been stung by, was a welcomed move.

``Most families do the right thing,'' he said.

``It is only a small percentage that don't, but it takes a lot of time and energy to chase your bad debt, and then a family could quite easily claim the rebate without paying their childcare bill and that is disappointing.''

Glen Dhu Children's Services owner Mel Reid said the loopholes had created problems for childcare providers for years.

``The biggest reason why centres have money owing at the end of each financial year is because of families doing a runner,'' she said.

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