ACOSS Warns on Budget Welfare Cutbacks
13 May 2014 at 11:53 am
A new analysis from welfare peak body ACOSS claims the main welfare targets expected in today’s Federal Budget – Newstart, family tax benefits and the disability support pension – are growing far more slowly than other government spending.
The Australian Council of Social Service says that from estimates used by the Commission of Audit, total government spending was on track to grow 3.7 per cent per year above the rate of inflation for the next decade.
But the ACOSS analysis shows that spending on the disability support pension is projected to grow only 2.8 per cent, spending on unemployment benefits only 1.1 per cent, and spending on family tax benefits is expected to drop in real terms.
In their Budget Priorities Statement, ACOSS said: “Rather than rationing these services more severely or relying even more on user charges, the Government should raise the revenues necessary to fund quality accessible services through a fair tax system and savings in wasteful expenditure programs.”
While ACOSS agreed that Australia needed to be prudent with its spending, it said that Australia was generally a low taxing, low spending, low debt nation.
Dr Cassandra Goldie, the CEO of ACOSS, said: “ACOSS urges the Government to deliver on its promise to target expenditure to people most in need. It should take a balanced approach to balancing the budget, which means that the burden of fiscal restraint should be shared equitably across society according to means.
“A balanced review, which looked at the revenue side as well as spending, would review superannuation tax concessions, one third of which goes the top 10 per cent of wage earners. These cost the public purse around $40 billion each per year.
“Revenue is more than $30 billion down a year on pre-GFC levels.
“Yet the Commission of Audit set the tone for a Budget that steers clear of addressing these revenue problems, and instead may cut essential services.
“Proposed cuts include reducing employment support, which risk harming young people who are already doing it tough.
"It will be even tougher if effective programs such as Youth Connections and the School Business Community Partnership Broker program, which have been hugely successful, are discontinued.”
ACOSS said the proposed changes to education and health risk created a two tiered system, where adequate services were only available for those who could afford to pay.