Amend Family Tax Benefit so disadvantaged youth don’t miss out: ACOSS

The Australian Council of Social Service welcomes the Federal Government’s legislation to increase Family Tax Benefits to help families meet the cost of raising teenagers.

The Minister for Families and Community Services, Jenny Macklin introduced legislation into Parliament yesterday that would see the maximum payment rate of Family Tax Benefit Part A increase by more than $160 per fortnight for teenagers aged 16 to 19 who are living at home, in secondary school or equivalent vocational training.

“ACOSS is pleased the Government appears to be listening to the concerns of parents and the community sector, who have been calling for this for a long time,” said ACOSS CEO, Dr Cassandra Goldie.

“Far from being ‘wasteful spending’ FTB is an essential tool to reduce poverty and help families struggling with the costs of raising children.

“Families on low incomes rely on family payments to help with essentials, such as food, clothes, school books and housing expenses. We also know that teenagers from families on low incomes are at high risk of leaving education and training if their families are unable to give them financial support.

“So we strongly support this positive move. However, ACOSS is concerned that up to 10,000 disadvantaged young people living with parents on low incomes could miss out on the payment increases because they are unable to attend school or other training fulltime. The training requirement should be flexible enough to take account of their circumstances.

“These young people are now on Youth Allowance, which offers greater flexibility for the most disadvantaged young people – such as those who are homeless or have mental health conditions – to combine training with employment or other activities, or to be exempted from the requirements when they are unable to meet them.
“However, the Youth Allowance is not being increased to the same level as the Family Tax Benefit so those still on Youth Allowance will miss out on the payment increases,” Dr Goldie said.

Media Contact: Fernando de Freitas, ACOSS – 0419 626 155