6 May 2021
Women on low incomes must not be left behind in the Federal Budget, especially as our current tax, income support and superannuation systems work against them, says the Australian Council of Social Service.
COSS is today releasing a Pre-Budget Brief that shows how women’s economic security has been undermined by government decisions, including decisions to focus job generation in male-dominated industries and cut social security whilst delivering big tax cuts.
ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:
“Our current tax, income support and superannuation systems are entrenching gender inequality and this must be remedied in the Budget if it is truly to deliver for women.
“To date, the Federal Government has given priority to subsidies for home renovations and ownership, which have benefited higher wealth households, whilst refusing to invest in social housing. Yet, even before the pandemic, older women were the fastest growing group of people facing homelessness.
“Women were most impacted by the Government’s cuts to income support, with the removal of the Coronavirus Supplement cutting the already tight budgets of 300,000 single parent families. These income support cuts have left women struggling to cover the very basics. At the same time the Government is continuing with its plan for high-income tax cuts, which will overwhelmingly benefit men. Under the stage 3 tax cuts, the net taxes paid by women will fall by an average of $637 per year, while men will enjoy an average reduction of almost five times that at $2,989 per year.
“We’ve also seen investment in job generation to date focus on male dominated industries, such as construction and roads. Yet there are yawning gaps in female-dominated community services, such as aged care, child care, mental health and homelessness services, where many more jobs can be created and with high public benefit. We have welcomed the recent childcare announcement as an important first step but the announcement doesn’t address key issues for lower income women and First Nations women and their children. The work in the caring sector is underpaid and undervalued. It is also heavily female-dominated. This is not a coincidence. We need to finally see the billions needed invested into these critical caring services, not billions more in tax breaks and cuts that help those on higher incomes or with significant wealth, who are mostly men.
“The Government should use the Budget as an opportunity to create a fairer future for women, with specific priority given to women and their families with least economic security, in insecure housing or at risk of gender-based violence. The Federal Budget Papers need to clearly show the gender equity impacts of its measures. We need transparency about who is gaining, and who is being left behind, ” Dr Goldie said.