Expert Opinion Panel
Jason Bryce – Business & Finance Specialist
Government Orders Single Parents To Be Verified
By Jason Bryce | 10 May 2017
Single parents will now have to provide ‘verification’ of their relationship status
Single parents will now have to have to provide ‘verification’ of their relationship status in order to claim Centrelink’s Parenting Payment Single. Single parents who leave parenting Payment Single and then return to the payment will also be caught up in this new verification net.
“From 20 September 2018 new claimants seeking Parenting Payment (Single) or single parents claiming Newstart Allowance will be required to have a third party sign a new form verifying that they are in fact single,” the government announced as part of the 2017 Budget this week.
Yes that’s right. You have to find someone to verify that you are in fact single. That shouldn’t be too hard, right? Be sure to tell them that the penalty for making a false declaration is up to 12 months in prison.
“This is offensive and deeply disturbing,” said Terese Edwards, chief executive of the National Council of Single Mothers and their Children.
“Who verifies? Do children get asked? Is there a neighbour watch alert? This is a slippery slope back into the dark days. I’m proud of our single mothers, they are doing a damn good job and don’t need the burden of Government prejudice.”
There is good news.
The ‘zombie cuts’ from the Abbott/Hockey Budget of 2014 have been dropped. The big cuts to Family Tax Benefits (FTB) and other payments have been formally dropped. So that’s settled then. Yes but …
Family Tax benefits frozen for two years
Whatever you get now in Family Tax Benefits may be the exact amount you will still be getting in two years time. While inflation is expected to eat up to six per cent of your money’s value, FTB Part A and B will be frozen at present levels until 2019.
That will end up costing you $188 per year per child in FTB Part A and $109 per year in FTB Part B
If your child is a teenager, the hit will be greater. The FTB A freeze will eventually cost you $475 per year and the Part B freeze will have $48 per year from your payments.
Three strikes and you’re out for Jobseekers
Single mothers and others who are on Newstart or Youth Allowance may be subject to new job search requirements.
And missing an interview or appointment will now result in loss of 50 per cent of a fortnightly payment. A second miss will mean loss of 100 per cent of a fortnightly payment and the third strike is a four week exclusion from payments. Good luck eating.
ParentsNext New training programs for parents
The government is spending $263 million on ParentsNext, a training program to help parents prepare for work from 1 July 2018.
Seven Centrelink payments combined into one
From 20 March 2020, one single JobSeeker Payment will replace seven existing Centrelink payments including Newstart Allowance, Sickness Allowance, Wife Pension, Partner Allowance, Bereavement Allowance, Widow B Pension, and Widow Allowance.
The government says despite the name change, over 99 per cent of people will have no change to their payment rates.
Catholic school fees could rise
Parents with kids at Catholic primary schools could face big fee increases next year.
Tim Smith, from the Catholic Education Commission in the A.C.T. told SingleMum.com.au that some school fees will rise by 200 per cent.
Tim has a list of 21 local Catholic primary schools that will be forced to put up their fees next year because they will actually lose funding in real terms over the next ten years.
Some schools, like St Thomas More’s at Campbell and St Bede’s in Red Hill will have to put their fees up by up to $5,000 per student, per year, said Tim.
“That’s a school fee increase of two hundred per cent.”
More than ten other schools will increase fees by more than two thousand dollars per year including Holy Trinity in Curtin, St Joseph’s in O’Connor and Sts Peter and Paul Primary School in Garran.
Schools in other states will also be affected said Ian Baker from the NSW Catholic Education Commission. He estimated about $19 million from catholic schools in NSW.
In Victoria, 103 catholic schools could raise fees to cover funding shortfalls said the executive director of Catholic Education Melbourne, Stephen Elder.
Medicare saved and strengthened
“Tonight, we put to rest any doubts about Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme,” Scott Morrison told Parliament.
Then he announced a Medicare Guarantee Bill to fund $2.2 billion in new and reinstated Medicare benefits for ordinary patients. Hospital funding will jump by $2.8 billion over four years and mental health services will get an extra $115 million. Another $66 million will help research into children’s cancer.
Business & Finance Journalist