Expert Opinion Panel
Jason Bryce – Business & Finance Specialist
The single parent’s need-to-know Budget 2016 guide
Your 5 minute guide to the budget!
By Jason Bryce | 05 May 2016
Six things every single mum needs to know about Scott Morrison’s budget…
(plus one other very important government cut-back affecting your children)
There could be real financial pain for you from this budget, but not immediately. The 2016 Commonwealth government budget has been framed with one eye on the election coming on the 2 July. That means there aren’t too many nasty surprises right now.
However, and there has to be a ‘however’ of course, single mums will feel financial pain if Scott Morrison’s first budget as Treasurer is passed in full by the parliament, and that may be sometime down the track, perhaps conveniently after the election.
And the former social services minister has clearly got some big ideas about welfare, so it would be fair to say there could be more changes coming in the future.
For single mums, here are six ‘need-to-know’ measures from the 2016 budget
Harsh Family Tax Benefit cuts are still on the table
The Liberal/National government still wants to cut back hard on Family Tax Benefits. The cutbacks to Family Tax Benefit Part A and B which were first announced in the 2014 budget are still part of the government budget plan and this 2016 budget reconfirms that. These changes are currently held up in the senate but if the election returns a new group of senators, then all bets are off and your Family Tax Benefits could be slashed. For more information on these cutbacks see our latest Family Tax Benefit cuts feature here.
The Healthy Welfare Card is coming
The cashless Centrelink Visa card is being rolled out to more communities. The government is expanding welfare income management, with money put aside for a third trial site. The Centrelink Visa card bars a welfare recipient from withdrawing more than 20 per cent of their payments in cash. The card also does not allow purchases of alcohol or gambling products. The government is clearly committed to this project, so expect the Centrelink Visa to come to a community near you sooner or later. You can read our most recent Healthy Welfare Card feature here
Compulsory rent deductions are here now
There is a new “Compulsory Rent Deduction Scheme” for public and some community housing tenants. Tenants who receive a pension, benefit or even Family Tax Benefit will have their rent automatically deducted from their Centrelink payments. Centrelink’s current Centrepay bill payments system is voluntary. This is compulsory.
New single mums will get less
Single mums and other people applying for new Centrelink benefits now will get less than existing beneficiaries because carbon tax compensation has been axed. This payment is called the “Clean Energy Supplement” or “Single Income Family Supplement (SIFS)” and a few dollars on top of your normal pension or benefit. The actual payment depends on how much you get but most single mums on Parenting Payment Single plus Family Tax Benefit it is in the order of about $10 per fortnight.
It really is time to quit smoking
Every year over the next four years, the price of cigarettes will rise by 12.5 per cent. By 2020, a pack of 25 will cost about $41, up from around $25 now.
There is a new, paid, work for the dole scheme.
Plenty of single parents are now on Newstart. Young people under 25 who have been on Newstart for six months will be paid $200 a fortnight extra to engage in traineeships with employers. This will mean on-the-job training for up to 25 hours per week. The scheme, called the Youth Jobs PaTH Programme, is supposed to lead to a job with the employer for at least six months.
Finally, take our advice and take the kids to the dentist NOW
It’s not a budget measure but the Child Dental Benefits Schedule will end on the 1st of July 2016. That means no more free dental procedures for teens up to age 17 unless a new scheme is announced. For detailed information on the closing of the Child Dental Benefits Schedule, you can read our Child Dental Benefits Schedule feature here
The Healthy Welfare Card is coming
New single mums will get less money
New Zealand single parent update
Update – New Zealand mums living in Australia
For mums from New Zealand who are unable to claim Parenting Payment, there is no real news. Malcolm Turnbull has made a deal with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key to improve the treatment of Kiwis who live in Australia, however the budget has not set aside any new money for this. We can only assume that Kiwi mums will have to wait until at least next year for improvements to their situation.
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.
Jason’s personal website is www.centrelinknews.com.au
Keep up to date with the latest Centrelink news and information at Jason’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/centrelinknews
Follow Jason on Twitter @JasonBryce
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