May 30, 2024

Budget 2024 will keep ECE lights on, but gaps remain

Early Childhood Education centres will be able to keep the lights on with the cost adjustment announced in today’s Budget, but little else.“If you were in trouble before, this won’t change anything,” said ECC CEO Simon Laube.

With inflation in 2024 at 4%, a cost adjustment of 2% in January 2025 will see centres slowly going backwards. Employers still have unfunded Pay Parity salary and wage increases to cover, and with $1.4 billion in funding for 20 Hours ECE for under two’s reversed (to be replaced by FamilyBoost), early learning providers are facing significant cost pressures that will only worsen.

“For many providers just hanging on, the cost adjustment won’t be enough to stay in business,” said Simon Laube. “ECC members have been told the light at the end of the tunnel is the regulatory review, as removing unnecessary regulatory costs should provide relief in-kind to providers.”  

“We will also keep pushing for common sense on Pay Parity, which sees all teachers eligible for salary progression at about 4% each year – a new cost pressure created by the previous government that was never funded.”

“On the upside, the 4.6% 20 Hours ECE funding increase confirmed in March 2024 that was some relief. And confirmation of FamilyBoost and tax relief for parents should help some families who couldn’t afford ECE, and may stimulate new demand that will help centres.”

“Let’s face it - it remains very challenging to provide early learning services,” said Simon Laube.