Centrelink Family Payment Cuts Are Back

Centrelink Family Payment Cuts Are Back

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Jason Bryce – Business & Finance Specialist

Centrelink Family Payment Cuts Are Back

They’re back…the Family Payment cuts that won’t die…

By Jason Bryce | 06 November 2016

What exactly are these zombie family payment cuts

you have heard about?

You thought the 2014 FTB cuts were dead but they’re back. Like the zombies of Hollywood, these are the big Abbott government family payment cuts that squarely target single mums. They were never implemented, but they just won’t die.

Many cuts have been implemented, including the Family Tax Benefit freeze at the current rate for the next two of years. FTB end-of-year supplements are also being phased down for families with incomes over $80,000, the energy supplement is gone for new recipients, the large family supplement is gone and some other cuts have already become law.

However now there could more, and much deeper FTB carnage facing single mums.

Right now, we are waiting to see if the cross bench senators, including the Nick Xenophon Team will support the cuts. Pauline Hanson’s One Nation team has shown their true colours and will vote to make poor single parents poorer. But they could lose one senator over an unrelated alleged assault charge.

Single mums worriedly wait and watch the Parliament House Senate - Photo source: Bigstock.com
Single mums worriedly wait and watch the Parliament House Senate

Perhaps you are thinking something like: “Single mums have been watching the senate for the last three years!” Or maybe you are thinking: This is starting to sound like a bad movie in which poor, struggling families face a contant threat from marauding zombie politicians?

Your income once again depends on the Senate because these cutbacks are coming back to haunt single mums. You can’t run, you can’t hide, these FTB cuts are very hard to kill.

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his treasurer Joe Hockey may now be long gone from the front bench of government but many of their budget 2014 bills are still stuck in Parliament. Not killed but not passed. They are undead. Many of the problems and instability that killed the Abbott/Hockey government date from the Budget of May 2014.

The House of Representatives has passed these 2014 budget cuts, but the previous senate blocked them from becoming law. For two years the legislation has sat, waiting for an opportunity to strike back.

Pauline Hanson, Senate - Photo source: Parliament House
Pauline Hanson is all for the Centrelink cuts

That opportunity may be now, because amid senate and budget chaos the Turnbull government is talking about reviving the zombie FTB cuts. And with support from Pauline Hanson and Nick Xenophon, they could become law.

Which families face Family Tax Benefit cuts?

Short answer – most of them. Long answer is that the current proposal will hit single parent families with teenagers the hardest but will also leave other families with younger children significantly poorer each fortnight as well.

Single income families with incomes under $80,000 are hardest hit

“The current bill has a similar impact on single income families with children over 13 years compared with the 2014-15 budget measures,” said Terese Edwards from the National Council for Single Mothers and their Children. “Single income families with children aged 6-12 years will also be worse off.”

Single mothers with children under one year old are the only parents to get an increase. They will get an extra $1,000 in FTB Part B. There is also an increase of $5 in FTB Part A but that gain will be overshadowed by the impact of other cuts.

What are the FTB cuts?

In 2014, then treasurer Joe Hockey proposed big cuts to Family Tax Benefits, especially FTB Part B. Many of these cuts were not passed in 2014, and have come back to haunt us now:

  1. Cut the top rate for FTB Part B for all families when youngest child turns 13 from $2737.50 per year to $1000.10 per year.
  2. Cut FTB Part B completely when the youngest child turns 16, not 18.
  3. Phase out end-of-year FTB supplements for all families, not just those in the income bracket over $80,000.

There is also an increase in payments

  1. Increase FTB Part A by $5 per week per child.

How will these cuts impact single mums?

“I won’t be able to continue with the children’s swimming lessons,” one single mum told a survey by the National Council for Single Mothers and their Children, “I won’t be able to afford car insurance.”

Many children have learned to hide that they need money for school excursions - Photo source: Bigstock.com
Many children have learned to hide that they need money for school excursions

Perhaps the last word should belong to this single mum

“So we are losing more money? I certainly hope they are joking? I can’t remember the last time I bought underwear for myself, a cake from a cake shop, a meal out somewhere.

“My son has school camp in November but I’m already behind in school fees and $250 behind in rent. This is an absolute joke! Get the politicians to live on our salary for one week.”

Jason Bryce
Business & Finance Journalist

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go to Jason Bryce's Biography

Jason is a business and finance journalist with 20 years experience, and is also a member of the SingleMum.com.au Expert Opinion Panel. He has a regular weekly column in the Sunday Mail (Brisbane) and writes regularly for the Business Daily section of the Herald Sun in Melbourne and many other newspapers and magazines. Read Jason Bryce’s full profile here

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