Push to compensate carers with super credits
There is a push to compensate carers with credits for superannuation.
On average, women retire with 42 per cent less super than men.
People who care for disabled children, or members of the sandwich generation who care for ageing parents miss out on super contributions because their caring is essentially a full-time job.
So, the Human Rights Commission has recommended that the Productivity Commission investigate possible financial models for carer credits.
Around 70 per cent of primary carers are women who miss out on the opportunity to grow their careers and pay packets.
Should the government compensate carers for this time out of the workforce with carer credits to their superannuation, these women – or men, if that is the case – would have much better options in retirement, and the initial outlay would come at a lower cost to the taxpayer.
"It actually encourages people to spend more time looking after their dependent-aged parents or disabled family member at home and that actually does save the taxpayer a considerable amount of money," said economist Stephen Koukoulis.
"If those people are placed in some sort of government-sponsored institution the cost to the taxpayer is quite phenomenal. We know that from NDIS and aged care."
Australia is lagging behind other countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Japan, Denmark and Sweden, which already pay carer credits in various forms.
"In fact, most of the countries that have had carer credits for decades have actually spent the last few decades trying to strengthen their schemes," said Dr Myra Hamilton from the University of New South Wales Social Policy Research Centre.
Labor has committed $400 million to pay superannuation to parents while they take parental leave, and the Coalition has extended the spouse tax offset for those who contributed to the superannuation of a low-income-earning partner, as well as allowing people with low super balances to carry forward their concessional cap for five years, which effectively allowed those with interrupted work patterns to catch up.
But these are just small steps towards solving a bigger problem, says Dr Hamilton.
Carers NSW believes that carer credits might be another step towards a fairer system for carers.
"Carers NSW believes the introduction of 'caring credits' would contribute to a more financially fit future for many of the 2.7 million unpaid carers across Australia," said Carers NSW chief Elena Katrakis.
Read more at www.abc.net.au
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