Federal budget: welfare sector disappointed


Federal budget: ‘Little for Gippsland’

A local welfare group has expressed disappointment in the federal budget’s failure to grant widely-called-for increases to unemployment benefits.

Job seekers receiving Newstart payments will now be allowed to earn $100 before their payments are reduced, but a campaign by welfare groups to increase the payment by about $50 every fortnight was ignored.

Anglicare Gippsland community service manager Bruce Thorne acknowledged the budgetary restrictions faced by the Federal Government.

He said Gippslanders surviving on Newstart incomes were being pushed further into poverty on current allowances.

“That extra earning allowance is welcomed, and it’s a good step, but the fact is it does not adequately address the deteriorating financial situations of those that simply can’t find those extra earnings in the first place,” Mr Thorne said.

Anglicare Gippsland hosts a financial counselling program which services about 3000 clients annually, 100 per cent of which are on government benefits.

“I can appreciate that broader economic environment has been pretty tough, but by the same token, with the level of unemployment in the region, and the impact it has on households, means we have some unemployed people living in quite dire circumstances,” he said.

The federal budget also announced a cut to the baby bonus, effective 1 March next year.

Recipients of Family Tax Benefit Part A will receive $2000 across fortnightly payments for first born children, and $1000 for subsequent children.

Mr Thorne said while the reduction would likely cause further disadvantage for struggling families, the shift of the payment to FTB A recipients was a “better targeted” delivery of the payment.

“There are people who would argue the amount of the bonus in first place was not justified, but the reality is this means those who are going to receive less will not be able to use it for the extra day to day stuff that comes with having a baby,” he said.

“The best example in the Valley is when young parents are using it for transport solutions; getting around in Gippsland is sometimes a challenge, and quite a lot of money is spent on transport for those extra medical engagements young parents have.”