Government Denies Budget Fails on Social Inclusion Agenda
Wednesday, 12th May 2010 at 1:30 pm
Senator Ursula Stephens, the Parliamentary Secretary for Social Inclusion has denied that the Federal Budget fails to deliver on its social inclusion agenda.
Senator Stephens says tax concessions and spending on health provide a fundamental contribution to the government’s social inclusion agenda affecting large numbers of marginalised people in the community.
Sen. Stephens says the tax concessions will help with cost of living pressures and allow working families to continue to be engaged in their communities.
Under the Budget, a worker earning $20,000 a year will pay $750 less in income tax in 2010-11, a worker earning $50,000 will pay $1750 less in income tax, and a worker earning $80,000 will pay $1550 less in income tax in 2010-11.
Low income workers will be able to earn up to $16,000 and not have to pay any income tax – this is up from $11,000 in 2007-08. As well the Budget announced simpler tax returns for most Australians.
The standard deduction of $500 is described as being equal to, or more than many work-related expenses and the standard deduction will increase to $1000 from July 2013.
The Senator says that the Sector needs to drill down into the Budget to see that there are plenty of measures addressing the needs of marginalised and disadvantaged Australians.
She says there is not a single bullet to address all the concerns around jobless, families, indigenous communities, homelessness, children at risk of long term disadvantage or those dealing with mental illness.
She says there is a need for a total approach.
A joint statement from Ministers involved in areas of welfare says the Rudd Government is building on its commitment to close the gap in life expectancy and life opportunities for Indigenous Australians through targeted investment to strengthen Indigenous communities.
They say this year’s Budget focuses on making sure that programs are implemented and services are delivered in a way which is effective and targeted to meet the specific needs of Indigenous communities around employment, education and early childhood, housing, flexible remote service delivery and indigenous legal aid assistance.
Another Ministerial statement says the Rudd Government will improve assessments for disadvantaged jobseekers and people with disabilities to ensure that appropriate employment services and income support are provided.
It says new Disability Support Pension (DSP) assessments will help people with disabilities return to the workforce by focusing on their ability, rather than their disability.
The Government will invest $520,000 to involve people with disability, their families and carers in the Productivity Commission’s landmark inquiry into long-term care and support.
The inquiry is described as a key element of the Government’s National Disability Strategy, and the National Carer Strategy. The Government says funding in this Budget will help involve as many people as possible in its consultation.
Disability and carer organisations will receive grants of up to $30,000 each that can be used to fund travel costs for participants to attend consultations or to engage a facilitator to gather views of their members, and prepare a submission to the Inquiry.
The first round of consultations will be held by the Productivity Commission in June and July this year, following the release of an issues paper, and a further second round of consultations will be held in April 2011.
The Budget also includes reforms to Special Disability Trusts which will increase flexibility for family members and carers who have the financial means to provide private financial provision for the future care and accommodation needs of a family member with severe disability.
Details of the Federal Budget and the Treasurers Speech can be found at www.budget.gov.au