Concerns ECE fees could go up even with National's childcare rebate

There is concern National's new childcare rebate could raise the cost of services because "ECE across the board is underfunded".

National leader Christopher Luxon announced his childcare package on Sunday and promised those with a combined income of up to $140,000 will get $75 a week returned to them.

Scribbles Childcare director Vince Grgicevich says any policy that assists parents with childcare "is a good thing" and his centres, like many others, have the capacity for new enrolments. 

But Ruru House Owner Anna Ryder says centres have already been forced to raise their fees to meet the costs of pay parity and the cost of living increases. 

"Any money given to ECE is definitely a positive, but that could [be] one of the downsides to this rebate coming through."

The pair both agree pay parity is positive for ECE staff, but Ryder says Government funding "that they gave towards pay parity is not enough to meet the pay parity costs for the teachers".

Grgicevich agreed, saying: "We're happy to pay that money, but fund us and fund us to a level where we don't have to keep increasing fees."

Ryder told AM there are centres that haven't been able to increase their fees at all because their communities cannot afford it. 

"Parents should be able to make a choice based on their needs, not what their pockets say, and that's what's happening in Aotearoa at the moment."

It was only a couple of months ago when Grgicevich told AM he was about to increase fees because of climbing wage bills. 

While Grgicevich hasn't increased fees yet, his wage bills have gone up $100,000 in the last two years. 

"I've personally had to take out [an] extra mortgage to keep my centre happening and to pay my staff," he said. 

"It's been very, very tight."

Watch the full interview above.