Double Dipping – so where are we now?

Before I get started, I just want to say one thing. I hate the term double dipping! I feel like I don’t have a choice but to use it. It’s the only thing that people understand when I mention a reduction in Paid Parental Leave for new mothers – oh, you mean double dipping?

I was very lucky to receive 18 weeks of Paid Parental Leave from the government as well as 13 weeks pay from my employer. It meant that I had some form of income for over half the year that I took leave from work. I’m not complaining. Should I have felt lucky or should I have expected more from society in general? How about I just stick to the facts?

In May 2015 it was announced that government paid parental leave (currently $672.80 per week for 18 weeks = $12,110.40 before tax) would not be available to mothers ONLY IF if they were also receiving paid maternity leave from their employers.

After a bit of tweaking, the final proposal was that if the number of weeks of pay from from your employer is more than the 18 weeks of government paid parental leave, then you would receive nothing from the government. If you received less than the government amount then you would be topped up. No one would receive less than the 18 weeks pay. In my case, I would have received the 13 week pay from my employer, then 5 weeks of paid parental leave to reach the total of 18 weeks.

The reason for this change was to save the government $1 billion over four years which would then be redirected into changes to the funding of Childcare. It was meant to start on 1 July 2016, but as that date approached, the legislation had still not passed the Senate. Many families were unable to plan ahead as they didn’t know what income they would be entitled to once their babies were born.

By April 2016, the government had decided that the Senate would not be able to pass the legislation required for the changes, the election was called not long after and it was kind of forgotten about. But not really forgotten completely.
This brings us to last week. Social Services Minister Christian Porter made a speech that reaffirmed his intention to introduce new legislation that will stop mothers from accessing parental leave pay if it is already provided by their employer. We will just have to wait and see what happens next. I’ll keep you informed.

Centrelink App to be removed soon – make sure you have the latest one.

Do you use Centrelink’s phone Apps?

Personally I prefer them over logging into myGov all the time from my computer. Currently there are two apps that are pretty much doing to same thing:

  1. Express Plus Families App
  2. Express Plus Centrelink App

Centrelink have announced recently that the Families App will be retired on 26 September.

If this is the only App you currently use then I would encourage you to now download the Centrelink App.  If you log into the old App you will actually be prompted to download the new Centrelink App.

Also, I found it easily in the App Store on my iphone by searching for ‘Centrelink.’ It is also on Google Play, but not the Microsoft Windows Store. Your PIN will remain the same in the new App, but if you have been using the Vault feature to store documents, these will disappear unless you email or print them.

What do I use the most on the Centrelink App?
  1. Locating CRN numbers

If you tap on ‘Personal’ it will bring up your basic information such as Date of Birth, YOUR CRN  and also your CAN. It also tells you what payments you are approved for.  An approval for ‘CCB for Approved Care’ means you are also receiving the CCR. If you tap on ‘My Family’ it will list your children that have been included in a Centrelink registration and it will include their Date of Birth and CRN.

  1. Looking up how much of the Childcare Rebate I have used

If you tap on ‘Menu’ and ‘Childcare’ you will see everything that is relevant to your CCB/CCR with each child. A summary of how much CCB and CCR they have received in the current financial year, your CCB percentage and a weekly summary of your child’s attendance at childcare with the fees for that week.

 

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Your Family Budget eBook – Making Sense of Government Parenting and Childcare Payments.

My guide to everything you will ever need to apply for and understand Parental Leave Pay, Dad and Partner Pay, Childcare Benefit & Childcare Rebate.  All in one place, with easy explanations.

My big announcement!

Today is a massive day for me! I am finally releasing for sale my Your Family Budget ebook.

I want to tell you a bit about the story of why I created Your Family Budget, and the ebook with the same name. We had friends over one night who were expecting their first child a few weeks later and they were telling us their whole Centrelink story. The application for Parental Leave Pay, going into Centrelink, logging in online… going back into to Centrelink. You get the picture.

I kept making suggestions here and there so after they left, my husband turned to me and said ‘you know this stuff, why aren’t you teaching it to everyone?’ I told him I would go and get a degree in Centrelink and think about it.

But I did think about it and I started looking at all the information online – and there is so much information online! But it was all basic information, and the devil is definitely in the detail when it comes to this stuff. I started reading the legislation and also the explanations that are found deep deep in the Department of Social Services website. It’s all there, but no one has ever put it together into one package and said ‘here it is, everything you need to know and how to do it in a way that is easy to understand.’ At the moment you have to keep looking for everything on lots of website pages.

So this is exactly what I have done. I’ve read, written and used the experience of going through it myself with my kids. Now I want to explain it to everyone who needs to know how to understand and specifically apply for Parental Leave Pay, Dad and Partner Pay, Childcare Benefit and Childcare Rebate.

I’ve put a huge amount of time and effort into creating this ebook and I genuinely feel that it will help you navigate through the process in a way that makes it easier for you. But this website isn’t just about the ebook.  With my website and Facebook page, there are always new things that you need to know and I plan to keep sharing information with you. So thank you for reading this and I hope I can help make things easier for you in your parenting journey.

Lisa

 

Changes to Child Care

Changes to Childcare Payments starting 1 July 2018

This week saw the first sitting of parliament since the federal election. The Government didn’t waste any time and reintroduced* the legislation that will make the big changes to Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate – the Jobs for Families Child Care Package.

Originally, this package was meant to start on 1 July 2017, but in the Budget delivered in May 2016, its introduction was delayed by one year and will begin on 1 July 2018.

*(Reintroduced as it was introduced in December 2015, but not passed by the Senate, instead it was referred to an inquiry. This inquiry did actually recommend it be passed, but then parliament was dissolved for the election!)

What are the Changes to Child Care and how will it affect you?

Here is a reminder of what this package is going to offer:

1. The Childcare Benefit and Childcare Rebate will disappear and be replaced with one Childcare Subsidy.

2. It is means tested. Here are the combined family income rates:

 Combined Family Income Subsidy per cent of the actual fee charged (up to relevant percentage of the hourly fee cap)
Up to $65,710 85 per cent
More than $65,710 to below $170,710 Tapering to 50 per cent*
$170,710  to below $250,000 50 per cent
$250,000  to below $340,000 Tapering to 20 per cent*
$340,000  or more 20 per cent

*Subsidy tapers down by 1 per cent for each $3000 of family income

3. Notice that it is up to a percentage of an hourly fee cap – not a percentage of the actual rate you pay if your fees are higher than these rates. This is the same system as the current Childcare Benefit standard hourly rate. Currently at $4.30 an hour.

When the subsidy commences the hourly fee caps will be:

Service type Maximum hourly fee cap
Centre Based Long Day Care $11.55
Family Day Care $10.70
Outside School Hours Care $10.10

4. For families earning more than $185,710, an annual subsidy cap of $10,000 per child will apply, similar to the cap of $7,613 we have now.

5. All of these rates will be adjusted for CPI so when 1 July 2018 rolls around they will be slightly higher.

6. You need to be performing an ‘activity’ to be eligible for the Childcare Subsidy, this can include paid work, self employed work, unpaid work in a family business, looking for work, volunteering or studying. (I haven’t found any mention of unpaid maternity leave which is currently eligible for 12 months of Childcare Rebate.)

7. It is the number of hours of that ‘activity’ you perform that gives you a corresponding number of hours of Childcare Subsidy, the Activity Test is:

Hours of activity (per fortnight) Maximum number of hours of subsidy (per fortnight)
8 hours to 16 hours 36 hours
More than 16 hours to 48 hours 72 hours
More than 48 hours 100 hours

It looks like the Hours of Activity will relate to the parent with the lower number of hours. So if your family has a stay at home parent that works less than 8 hours, your family wont be able to access the new Childcare Subsidy.The exception is if your Combined Family Income is less than $65,710. Then you will be able to access 24 hours a fortnight.

Edit: The Bill was passed by the parliament on 9 February 2017. I have made minor updates to this blog post to reflect this and any other rate changes.

Lisa.

Image-1It’s tips similar to this one that are included all throughout my instruction manual Your Family Budget. I don’t just tell you what to do and what it all means, but more than that, I actually give you information that makes it relevant for your situation, whether you are applying for Paid Parental leave or Childcare Payments. Save yourself the stress and the wasted hours of time and download Your Family Budget today.