Daily News - The Budget

Posted 14 May 2014 7:30am

Budget Fact Sheet - Grants for social service providers
Department of Social Services

Close to one-third of 12,900 discretionary grants will expire on 30 June 2014. From 1 July 2014, to ensure essential services continue while improvements to grant arrangements are being implemented, the Australian Government will provide:

  • six-month extensions for the majority of existing grants
  • 12-month extensions for grants transitioning into longer-term initiatives such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and Aged Care Commonwealth Home Support Programme
  • five-year grant agreements for Family and Relationship Services, Communities for Children Facilitating Partners and Family Law Services.

This delivers on the Government’s pre-election commitment to provide longer-term agreements to the sector for these critical services.


Budget outcome still unclear for financial counselling
Financial Counselling Australia

The budget outcome for Commonwealth-funded financial counselling services (and emergency relief services) remains unclear. The Commonwealth is continuing to invest in the sector, through what is called the "Financial Wellbeing and Capability Programme". You can find programme information here.

What is unclear is the amount of funding involved.

FCA is meeting with the Minister's office on Wednesday morning. We will let financial counsellors and other stakeholders know more as soon as we can.


Cash incentives offered to employ those over 50
Mark Colvin, PM, ABC

I'll bring in Michael O'Neill, the chief executive of the lobby group National Seniors, because the budget pain has been mixed with a few sweeteners for the older members of Australian society.

Businesses will be offered up to $10,000 if they hire long-term unemployed people over the age of 50. That's obviously addressing a worry, a big worry for a lot of people in that age group.


Expanding Disability Employment Services
Kevin Andrews, Mitch Fifield, media release

The Abbott Government is expanding the number of non‐government service providers delivering Disability Employment Services (DES).

Improving opportunities for employment participation for people with disability who can work is a key priority of the Abbott Government. The DES Disability Management Service (DES DMS) provides specialist employment services to job seekers with disability, injury or a relevant health condition.

Minister for Social Services Kevin Andrews said the Government will tender the 47 per cent of the DES DMS that is currently delivered by CRS Australia, an arm of the Department of Human Services.


Young Australians to face six-month wait for unemployment benefits
Bridie Jabour, The Guardian

The Abbott government’s first budget revealed job seekers applying for Newstart or Youth Allowance, who have not been previously employed, will face a six-month waiting period of no income support before they are eligible for payments by undertaking 25 hours a week in the Work for the Dole program.

Once they have spent six months on the program, they will lose income support for another six months unless they undertake training or study.


Young to wait until 25 to get dole
Jacqueline Maley, Sydney Morning Herald

In addition to the six-month waiting period, the eligibility age for Newstart will rise from 22 to 25 years. Newstart is worth about $45 more a week for a single person living apart from their parents than the Young Allowance ''Other'' payment.


New Work for the Dole arrangements for young job seekers
Eric Abetz and Luke Hartsuyker, media release

Under this phase-in from 1 July 2014, job seekers aged 18 to 30 years who have been unemployed for twelve months or more and receiving taxpayer-funded assistance from a Job Services Australia provider will be required to do Work for the Dole for around 15 hours per week for six months unless they are working part-time.

The new rules will apply in selected areas across Australia for the next twelve months before an expansion of the programme from 1 July 2015.


Entitlements for older Australians cut in Hockey budget
Annabel Crabb, ABC

The Government will eliminate or cut a range of entitlements for older Australians, in what Treasurer Joe Hockey says is an attempt to make pensions "affordable and sustainable for decades to come".

... The indexation of the age pension will, from 2017, be linked to the consumer price index, rather than to average male wages, a decision that will save the Government $449 million over four years.

From 2017, asset and income test thresholds will also be frozen for three years.

Also from September 2017, the deeming thresholds for the income test will be reset to $30,000 for single pensioners and $50,000 for pensioner couples combined.


Family Tax Benefit cuts worth billions to hit families
Penny McLintock, ABC

Families face cuts in welfare payments under the Federal Government's changes to Family Tax Benefit rules.

The biggest changes are hitting Family Tax Benefit Part B (FTB-B), which will be cut for families when their youngest child turns six.


Government - Delivering on our commitment to build stronger relationships
Kevin Andrews, Media release

The Abbott Government is honouring its election commitment to provide Australian couples with access to relationship education and counselling services. The commitments we made at the election were fully funded, ensuring no additional pressure on the Budget.

The Stronger Relationships trial will provide up to 100,000 couples with $200 towards relationship education or counselling.


Round 5 of flawed National Rental Affordability Scheme not proceeding
Department of Social Services, media release

The Abbott Government will not proceed with the final round of the National Rental Affordability Scheme.

... The scheme will be reviewed to address ongoing issues and ensure remaining incentives meet the scheme’s original aim.

In consultation with states, territories, investors, developers and the housing sector, we will look at how the scheme can best meet its objectives, stamp out trading of incentives, target Australians most in need, and reduce red tape and ambiguity.

This will ensure that homes that have already been allocated incentives provide affordable housing to the people this scheme was originally intended to support—Australians on low and moderate incomes.


$534 million cut to Indigenous programs
Michael Coggan, ABC

Over the next five years $534 million will be cut from Indigenous programs administered by the Prime Minister and Cabinet and Health portfolios.


Commonwealth to slash share of hospital funding
Amy Corderoy, Dan Harrison, Sydney Morning Herald

Billions of dollars will be slashed from already-strained public hospital budgets under plans that could lead to huge increases in waiting times for surgery and emergency treatment.

Patients could be charged for treatment in public hospital emergency departments as well as facing new fees to visit their GP, get a blood test or an X-ray under radical changes the government says will put the brakes on unsustainable spending growth.


WA may add hospital fee to co-payment
Sydney Morning Herald

West Australian Premier Colin Barnett has taken aim at the Medicare co-contribution included in this year's federal budget and is angry about another cut to the state's GST share.

... the premier said any emergency department fee would be introduced "reluctantly".


Welfare, benefits changes slammed
Kaaren Morrissey, The Age

Changes to family benefits, work for the dole schemes and a $7 GP co-payment in the federal budget have angered welfare and health groups.

... Changes to family benefits, including a temporary pause on the indexation of payments and programs, and changes to the eligibility thresholds for Newstart also caused concern.

"There are measures in this budget that rip the guts out of what remains of a fair and egalitarian Australia," St Vincent de Paul Society chief John Falzon said.


Young unemployed people demonised, says Cassandra Goldie
Alexandra Kirk, PM, ABC

CASSANDRA GOLDIE: Young unemployed people I think have been very demonised through the announcements tonight, by making it look like they're just lazy and they should be out there getting a job. Well they're out there looking for a job and cutting them off their payments is not the way to get them into the jobs that we know they desperately want. Great investment for older workers.


Budget divides the nation, young and old, rich and poor: ACOSS
ACOSS, media release

"For people on low incomes, housing is the biggest cost of living problem. Yet, this Budget offers no guarantee of future funding for homelessness services, and cuts funding to the NRAS, the one bright light for creating new affordable housing.

"To then cut funding for community services, including financial counselling and emergency relief - small amounts in big budget terms - just seems a cruel blow.


Budget heavy lifting done by families, pensioners and young people, says UnitingCare's Lin Hatfield Dodds
UnitingCare Australia, media release

"Cuts to family payments, income support and pensions are four times the size of the temporary levy on high income earners," Ms Hatfield Dodds said. "Many of these cuts are permanent, while the high income levy runs for only three years.


Devil in the detail, says Anglicare's Kasy Chambers
Anglicare, Media release

“And there is still some devil in the detail here. The Department of Social Services funds a number of essential support services, such as financial counselling and emergency relief, from its Discretionary Grant Programme. But we don’t yet know what will be cut in the $240 million savings slated here.


Paid Parental Leave hidden away like the illegitimate child of a Downton Abbey scullery-maid
Annabel Crabb, The Drum, ABC

The Prime Minister's grand celebration of birth - his Paid Parental Leave Scheme - was supposed to be a central ornament to this Budget, but it has been hidden away like the illegitimate child of a Downton Abbey scullery-maid.

Mr Hockey's speech makes a tiny mention of the scheme, but its proud particulars are nowhere to be found in the budget papers. Treasury officials in the budget lockup confided that because negotiations with the states are not yet complete, the Paid Parental Leave Scheme languishes still in the Contingency Fund.


Reining in benefits will leave families bruised
David Uren, The Australian ($)

Who pays? Just under two million families with school-age children will lose an average of ­almost $1400 each in family benefits following the 2016 election, while they will also pay several hundred dollars a year more in visits to the doctor.

... The savings task will also start affecting the core Coalition constituency of aged pensioners from 2017 onwards, while the commonwealth will also squeeze state funding of hospitals and schools.

... The impact of the family benefit changes will have their greatest impact in Labor-held electorates. Labor holds 16 of the 20 electorates with the largest number of “stay-at-home-mums”, receiving the Family Tax Benefit B.

Cutting that benefit for parents with the youngest child aged over six years is a structural reform that encouraged workforce participation but, like similar cuts by the former Labor government to the single-parent pension, will carry a political cost.

There are a number of more marginal Coalition seats that also have large numbers of recipients of FTB-B, particularly in Queensland, where as many as 12 per cent of voters in seats such as Forde, Leichhardt and Petrie receive these family benefits.


Families will feel a budget squeeze
Peter Trute, The Age

Family payments will also be smaller for most people, most significantly for those on more than $100,000 a year who, from July 2015, will not receive Family Tax Benefit B.

The upper threshold for the $55-a-fortnight base rate of Family Tax Benefit A will be frozen until 2017.

End of year supplements will also be trimmed back: for FTB-A it falls from $726.35 per child to $600 per child from July 2015, while for FTB-B it drops from $354.05 per family to $300.

For a dual-income couple earning $82,560 between them, changes between now and 2017 will see their total government payments fall from $5136 a year to $4222 a year, although the government estimates their total income will rise due to average wages growth of three per cent


Budget 'full of pain for patients' says AMA spokesman
Mark Colvin, PM, ABC

'Full of pain for patients': that's how the Australian Medical Association describes the federal budget.

It says the chronically ill, the elderly, Aboriginal people and poor people will pay more for their healthcare.


Fears some will struggle with GP payment
Adam Bennett, The Age

Joe Hockey believes paying $7 to visit the doctor is a modest contribution to make.

But health groups warn it will make life harder for vulnerable Australians.

As expected, the treasurer introduced the co-payment in his first budget, confirming all Australians would now be slugged to see their GP.

From July 2015, those who now pay nothing to visit a GP will have to fork out $7, with $5 going into the soon-to-be-created Medical Research Future Fund.


Why the federal budget is bad for health and worse for society
Fran Baum, The Conversation

This budget will have a direct effect on health equity because none of the budget items relating to the social determinants of health – employment, income, health services, education, welfare, housing and transport – are being dealt with equitably.


The Rich And The Rhetoric Won The Day
Ben Eltham, New Matilda

Far from ending the age of entitlement, the Coalition is relying on exactly the same mechanisms that Labor hoped for to bring the budget back into the black. Essentially, Hockey is holding spending steady as a share of the economy, and waiting for growth to boost tax revenues.

What Hockey has done is redistribute. He is has made big changes to spending priorities. Business is being rewarded. The poorest and sickest are being punished.


Abbott Government faces Senate wrangling over key savings measures
Emma Griffiths, ABC

The Abbott Government faces months of wrangling in the Senate over key budget measures to introduce a GP fee and increase taxes on fuel and high-income earners.

Labor, the Greens and Clive Palmer have warned they will block both measures - collectively worth $6.5 billion.

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