Budget 2016: Don’t Fund NDIS at the Cost of Safety Net
4 May 2016 at 10:27 am
Disability advocacy group People with Disability Australia (PWDA) has strongly rejected the budget measures that link a fully funded National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) with the need to cut welfare spending.
“We have always welcomed a discussion about funding the NDIS so it is sustainable into the future and to ensure it is taken out of the budget cycle,” PWDA President Craig Wallace said.
“However, the NDIS Savings Fund announcement risks moving the NDIS further into the budget cycle by creating an expectation that the NDIS will be funded from ongoing trade-offs against other equally important human services expenditures.
“If there is to be a savings fund, it should not be a device to make savings, and poor trade-offs between programs and services supporting and sustaining vulnerable members of our community.”
As part of the budget announcements, Social Services Minister Christian Porter said the government would meet future NDIS costs through a deposit of $2.1 billion of budget savings into the NDIS Savings Fund Special Account, once the fund was established.
“Savings in the NDIS Savings Fund will be quarantined, locking them in as protected forward contributions to the NDIS,” Porter said.
“This will help make up Labor’s $4.4 billion shortfall in NDIS funding in 2019/20, which increases to over $5 billion per annum in the following years.
“Savings of $711.2 million over five years that were achieved through finalising transitional arrangements with states and territories, will also be set aside in the Savings Fund for reinvestment in the NDIS.”
He said the savings measures committed to the savings fund include:
- Closing carbon tax compensation for new welfare recipients from 20 September 2016 at a saving of $1.3 billion over five years.
- Closing carbon tax compensation for those single income families not already in the welfare system but who will enter the welfare system from 1 July 2017, with a saving of $67.2 million over five years.
- Additional reviews for Disability Support Pension recipients, with a saving of $62.1 million over five years.
Australian Greens spokesperson on Family and Community Services Senator Rachel Siewert said the government was once again going after the vulnerable to make savings whilst ignoring growing inequality.
“The budget is using the fully funded NDIS to take a swipe at income support recipients, including Newstart recipients and aged pensioners, after revealing plans to remove the energy supplement. It is also planning to drop more people off the Disability Support Pension,” Senator Siewert said.
“This is an unacceptable money grab by the government from people who are already living on or below the poverty line. We don’t need to hurt one vulnerable group to provide adequate services to another.
“I note that the government has still not moved to increase Newstart despite community service organisations, income support recipients, the Greens, business groups and major accounting company KPMG saying that the payment is way too low and is entrenching poverty. It must be increased.”
People with Disability Australia said the government has decided to subject another 30,000 Disability Support Pensioners each year to annual reviews. However it is unclear how these people will be selected and where the employment opportunities will come from.
“In the absence of jobs, cutting people off the Disability Support Pension (DSP) and placing them on Newstart will leave some people with disability over $170 per week worse off. This will leave people with disability at risk of spiralling into crisis and homelessness and in greater need of the kind of specialist disability supports the NDIS provides,” Craig Wallace said.
“We should not be making trade-offs and false economies between specialist disability support and income support. This is robbing Peter to pay Paul.
“While expressing concerns with several of the federal budget measures outlined by the treasurer, PWDA does welcome the decision to enable people with transport costs to retain their mobility allowance as the NDIS is rolled out in order to provide continuity of support.
“We are keen for further details about changes to eligibility requirements. A number of measures in this budget require further analysis and explanation.”