Expert Opinion Panel
Jason Bryce – Business & Finance Specialist
Centrelink welfare cuts –
government targets single parents again
Turnbull proposing to cut $48 a week from single parents
“We have nothing left to give!”
By Jason Bryce | 28 February 2016
No other group has been targeted by the government
to the same extent as single parents
Single parents and other low income families with teenagers aged 13 to 16 years old stand to lose $48 per week if proposed cuts to Family Tax Benefit Part B are passed by the Senate. And parents with children aged 16 to 18 years could lose all family benefits completely under new laws now under consideration.
Yes, you read that right – the Turnbull government is targeting the poorest families in Australia, single parent families, yet again, for budget savings.
Family Tax Benefit Part B under threat
Family Tax Benefit Part B is paid to 1.3 million single income families. Most of these families are single parent families. Family Tax Benefit Part B is proposed to be cut to just $1000 per year when the youngest child turns 13. FBT Part B will cease at age 17.
Large family supplement to be reduced
That’s not the end of the pain however. Other cuts are also on the table. The large family supplement for Family Tax Benefit Part A will cut another $12.46 per fortnight per child (for the fourth child and over) in large families.
Family tax benefit supplements to go
The government proposes to phase out the end-of-year Family Tax Benefit supplement payments completely over the next two financial years. This will end up costing 1.3 million low income families at least one thousand dollars per year. The Family Tax Benefit Part A end-of-year supplement is currently $726.35 per child. Next year it will be $602.25 and in 2018 it will be $0.
The Family Tax Benefit Part B end-of-year supplement is now $354.05 per family. Next year it will be $302.95 and in 2018 it will be $0.
And that’s not all – yet more cuts for single mums
Clearly the best strategy for single mums is to get trained up and get off the Centrelink treadmill right? Well other proposed government cutbacks will make that more difficult. The Pensioner Education Supplement (up to $62.40 per fortnight) and the Pensioner Education Entry Payment ($208 at the beginning of the year) are also on the chopping block. These payments were supposed to have been cut from the 1 January 2015 but single mums who are studying have had something of a reprieve, so far, because these bills have not yet passed the Senate.
There is good news. Families with children under one year old will get a pay rise of almost $20 per week from the 1 July 2016. When their youngest child turns one, the family payments will reduce again back to the standard level. And in the future, Family Tax Benefit Part A is proposed to go up by $10.08 per fortnight per child.
However, said Dr Cassandra Goldie from the Australian Council of Social Service, the boost to FTB Part A by $5 does not take effect until 1 July 2018.
“It is far too little to compensate families for the loss of an estimated $48 per week and it takes effect two years after the payment cuts.”
Terese Edwards, CEO of the National Council of Single Mothers and their Children appeared at a Senate committee hearing last week to tell the politicians that single parents have nothing left to give.
“Struggling families are in deep distress,” Terese told the senators, “These cuts cannot proceed.”
“We already have 600,000 kids in poverty – this needs to be reduced, not increased!”
Ten years of cuts to single parent benefits
Australian single parents have now endured a decade of harsh government spending cutbacks that has left thousands of families in poverty. No other group in Australian society has been targeted by successive governments to the same extent as single parents.
The current ‘war on single parents’ began in 2006 when the John Howard Liberal/National government axed Parenting Payment Single completely for single parents when their youngest child turned eight. The Gillard government extended that cut to existing single parents, forcing more than 130,000 parents suddenly onto Newstart. That led many parents to march in the streets against the Labor government.
Turnbull continues the war on single mums
The Abbott and Turnbull Liberal governments have continued to target family benefits and payments for budget savings.
The 2014 federal budget contained some of the harshest cutbacks ever seen by low income families. Much of that budget failed to pass the Senate and eventually led to the downfall of the former prime minister Tony Abbott and his treasurer Joe Hockey.
But the cuts continue.
“Low income sole parents have borne the brunt of successive payment cuts,” said Terese.
“Struggling sole parent families, mostly headed up by a mother, have borne unrecoverable income losses of up to $140 per week.”
Terese said it would be reckless for parliament to support further cuts to single parents.
Business & Finance Journalist
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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.
Follow Jason on Twitter @JasonBryce
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