Tuesday, 13 May 2014 23:00

Budget Heavy Lifting Done By Families, Pensioners and Young People

UnitingCare Australia’s National Director, Lin Hatfield Dodds said that this year’s Federal Budget falls short of its own ambition to provide equality of opportunity for all Australians.

"The burden of this budget falls overwhelmingly on families, pensioners and young people.

"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.

"Medicare co-payments will hit the health and hip pockets of disadvantaged Australians.

"There are a number of budget measures that we support, including the levy on high income earners," Ms Hatfield Dodds said. "We urge the Government to consider continuing this levy until the budget returns to surplus.

"We support the better targeting of family tax benefits to families with incomes up to $100,000 per annum," said Ms Hatfield Dodds "but we are concerned that some families who need support will be substantially worse off after benefits are withdrawn six years earlier.

"It is good to see the continued commitment to the NDIS and funding to support the aged care workforce.

“The Budget includes record spending on physical infrastructure, but misses important opportunities to invest in people - Australia's most important and valuable asset," said Ms Hatfield Dodds

"The reduction in support for young people is a major concern," she said. "The Budget forecasts an increase in unemployment to over 6 percent, while restricting income support for people under 30, who have the highest rates of unemployment, to six months out of twelve.

"We are concerned about multiple measures that reduce payments to pensioners, including the aged pension, carers’ payments, disability support, and other income support payments. These measures reduce payments by $4 billion over five years, significantly more than the high income levy.

"Changes in indexation to the aged pension will cost a single pensioner $100 a week after a decade. This is a slow burn measure that will continue long after the temporary high income levy has ceased," Ms Hatfield Dodds said.

"The budget neglects opportunities to reduce perverse or inefficient tax expenditures. These include the $9 billion in superannuation concessions provided each year to people who need it least, and mining fuel subsidies that cost over $4 billion each year. Reducing these two tax expenditures by around a third would deliver sufficient revenue to cover the budget cuts to family payments and income support.

“We call on the Government to use the upcoming tax and welfare reviews to address the revenue side of the budget, and ensure that Australia can be a land of equal opportunity, and ensure a decent life for all.