Westpac has introduced three new initiatives to provide childcare businesses access to finance in line with the NSW government’s plan to grow the sector and get women back to the workforce.
Westpac is offering more flexible lending criteria and priority service for childcare centre operations through reduced equity requirements and more competitive rates and establishment fees.
The NSW government has announced $5 billion in funding to promote the childcare sector over the next decade. The aim is to lower childcare costs, provide subsidies to private childcare providers and build new childcare centres.
Westpac chief executive consumer and business banking Chris de Bruin (pictured) said the role of banks in providing access to fast and competitive finance was essential to support this growth.
“When government policy and corporate sector commitment are aligned, change can be driven quickly,” de Bruin said. “We know that access to finance is a key barrier to expansion, so we’re making it easier for childcare businesses to get the funding they need to grow.”
Boosting the childcare sector entails that women will eventually return to the workforce or take on more hours, which will be supplemented by another one of Westpac’s initiatives of a new development program.
Westpac is opening 100 slots for an upskilling program for female employees and external applicants to transition to home and business lending roles. The program was created to increase female participation and correct underrepresentation in Westpac’s lending roles.
“To complement our new childcare sector lending growth plan, we will also be lifting women’s participation across our own lending workforce, where females have historically been underrepresented in lending roles,” de Bruin said.
Westpac is also expanding the eligibility for its existing LMI Waiver to include eight more allied health professions, which have strong female workforce representation.
These include audiologists, occupational therapists, osteopaths, podiatrists, radiographers, sonographers and speech pathologists. Eligible customers can access an LVR of up to 90% without the additional cost of LMI.
“Home ownership is still one of the most common paths to wealth accumulation in Australia but saving the traditional 20% of the value of a property purchase price can take prospective buyers years to achieve,” de Bruin said.
“We have recently expanded our LMI Waiver to include additional health professions…where women make-up most of the workforce,” de Bruin added. “This will enable more women to purchase their home sooner with a reduced deposit and without the expense of mortgage insurance.”