Federal Budget takes as much as it gives
The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) has welcomes the modest investment in wage subsidies for unemployed people and the easing of income tests to improve work incentives in the Federal Budget, but has criticises benefit cuts for some of the poorest people in the community including sole parents with teenage children and young people on New Start Allowance.
"The budget holds promise - modest yet positive good programs and investments such as wage subsidies and the VET system that will definitely benefit some, helping remove barriers to paid employment," ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said.
"However, the ‘get tough measures' are unnecessary and will be counter-productive. Government has made a mistake by imposing ‘activity requirements' on people on social security which in many cases won't help them into employment."
Dr Goldie said ACOSS is particularly concerned about the $56 per week reduction in payments for some groups of single parents with teenage children and the $43 per week reduction in payments for unemployed 21-year-olds.
"With the OECD estimating that two-thirds of children in single parents on income support are living in poverty, above the OECD average, this is retrogressive, and should be reversed. Parents need support to address barriers to paid work, but not cuts to basic incomes to meet their families' needs," Dr Goldie said.
"We are delighted with the strong, positive National Mental Health Reform package to provide better support to people living with mental illness. This package is long overdue, and should receive broad support."
ACOSS also welcomed the announcement that the Federal Government will be introducing an independent regulator for the non-profit sector, better targeting of NFP tax concessions and introducing a statutory definition of ‘charity', as part of the 2011 Budget.
"This Budget commitment is an endorsement of the Government's support for a sustainable and innovative non-profit sector. Whilst we await the commitment from the Federal government to fund the Equal Pay case, this initiative is welcome," Dr Goldie said.
"This Budget had to be tough on waste, not welfare, in order to get back to surplus. We are therefore pleased to see the measures on the health care rebate, the FBT on company cars, and the dependent spouse offset, and the removal of the low income tax offset for investment income of children. We hope that the government will build on this work in the ongoing tax reform and future budget processes."
ACOSS is the peak body of the community services and welfare sector. Among its members is Catholic Social Services Australia, which provides services to more than a million Australians each year through its 69 member agencies (including CatholicCare Social Services - Diocese of Parramatta) in remote, regional and metropolitan Australia.
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