Expert Opinion Panel
Jason Bryce – Business & Finance Specialist
single parent’s guide to Budget 2015
Joe Hockey ‘puts the boot into single parents’
Looking forward to cheaper child care? Don’t hold your breath ….
By Jason Bryce | 14 May 2015
Joe Hockey’s budget wants to
cut thousands of dollars from your yearly income
The government is “putting the boot” into sole parents as well as other disadvantaged people and “blaming them” according one of Australia’s most widely respected religious charity groups.
The St Vincent de Paul Society has unleashed a savage attack on Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey’s second budget.
The budget hurts people who are already battling to make ends meet said Doctor John Falzon, chief executive of the St Vincent de Paul Society.
Falzon slammed the government for funding “nannies for the rich” by cutting money from the poor. He also criticised the government for implementing income management of welfare payments “instead of income adequacy.”
Those sentiments are shared by the National Council for Single Mothers and their Children’s chief executive Terese Edwards.
“Single parents have borne the brunt of some harsh cost saving measures [in recent years]” said Terese.
“And again we are expected to dip into our very short pockets.”
The headline initiative in this budget for families is big increases in child care subsidies
– however this is tied to big cuts to Family Tax Benefit Part B
“Investment in child care will be from the pockets of those who can least afford to lose a cent from their meagre weekly budget.”
“Despite our ongoing calls for investment into children and universal access to services, we cannot support a proposition that could result in families losing their family payments.” said Terese.
For a full analysis of the government’s Family Tax Benefit plans, you can read our Family Tax Benefit article here.
The child care plan
Joe Hockey’s child care proposals involve simplifying the system and paying providers, not parents. That could be a major step forward, if child care centre prices don’t suddenly leap upwards.
From 1 July 2017, there will be just one child care subsidy payment replacing the child care rebate and the child care benefit.
A family with an income of about $60,000 will get more than $17,000 worth of subsidies for 40 hours care per week, under the government’s plan.
However Labor, Greens and independent senators are steadfast in their opposition to slashing Family Tax Benefit to fund this, so it may never happen.
Families in financial hardship and families moving from welfare to work as well as children at risk of abuse or neglect will benefit from extra funding (from 1 July 2017) for the Additional Child Care Subsidy.
Joe Hockey also announced that families who earn less than $250,000 can apply for one of 10,000 places in the government’s “Nannies Trial” which starts on 1 January 2016.
Vaccinate now or lose big dollars
Is your child turning 1,2 or 5 years old? These are key ages when you have to show Centrelink that your child is up to date with immunisations.
Parents with children who have fallen behind on the immunisation schedule have until the end of the year to get back on track.
There will be no child care payments at all for unvaccinated children from the 1 January 2016.
Parents will also lose the Family Tax Benefit Part A end-of-year supplement if their children are not up to date. That is currently set at $726.35 per child, but could be cut to $600.
Avoid Newstart if you can
The parent rate for Newstart is just $561.80 per fortnight. Single parents lose 40 cents of Newstart allowance for every $1 they earn over $100 per fortnight.
Able bodied young people under 25 will have to wait 4 weeks after applying before getting paid Newstart allowance. That is a big improvement on last year’s proposals that failed to pass the senate.
Other changes you need to know …
This budget has more funding for yet another crackdown on Centrelink overpayments and recovery of old debts. The government is targeting debts accrued in the years 2010 to 2013.
Applying for benefits will get easier with big improvements to online applications. That could mean no more 60 page Family Tax Benefit forms.
Changes to Paid Parental Leave will not come into force until 1 July 2016. You still have time to have a baby and get the government’s paid parent leave and any employer leave you might be entitled to!
You’re doing the heavy lifting
The families package, featuring the improved subsidies for child care, is the centrepiece of this budget.
However that package all depends the senate agreeing to some pretty savage cuts to Family Tax Benefits first outlined in 2014’s budget.
Last year’s ‘divisive and unfair’ budget is casting a shadow over this year’s welcome measures in child care said Doctor Cassandra Goldie, chief executive of the Australian Council of Social Services.
This budget is a lost opportunity said Dr Falzon.
“(This is) ideology dressed up as rationality and will not dull people’s pain.”
Business & Finance Journalist
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