Down Payment on Social Inclusion Should not be Eroded by Budget Spending Cuts

In the lead up to the Federal Budget, ACOSS is calling for people on low incomes to be protected from spending cuts.

Any savings in the Budget should come from curbing high income earners access to Government payments and closing tax loopholes rather than cutting spending on supports and services for people living on low and middle incomes.

ACOSS welcomes the Government’s recent decision to means test Family Tax Benefit Part B for single income families above $150,000 a year. This approach is supported by 61% of the population who believe that high income earners should not receive Government payments. Further savings could be made from closing loopholes in the tax system that benefit high income earners, such as the generous tax breaks for ‘golden handshakes’ and company cars.

ACOSS acknowledges the Government’s positive commitments in housing, health, education and training, but will be looking for signposts for further progress towards social inclusion.

ACOSS today released a report called Employment participation policies- An international snapshot of policies and practices. The report looks at the UK, Netherlands, New Zealand and USA. The report calls for changes in the direction and additional investment in the Government’s employment policies for jobless people so they can reduce social exclusion and strengthen the economy growth and productivity at the same time.

The report recommends more investment in training, wage subsidies and other job supports, less punitive approaches to work requirements including the removal of 8 week suspension, removal of disincentives to train, and reform of employment programs like Job Network and Work for the Dole to make them more responsive to individual needs.

ACOSS would also like to see:

  • Additional funding for dental care to reduce the 650,000 people on public dental waiting lists;
  • Additional resources to health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people;
  • Extension of the utility allowance to recipients of other social security payments who are struggling with higher utility bills;
  • Increased direct investment in Public and Community Housing
  • Removing the Private Health Insurance Rebate for ‘extras’ cover and investing the savings in improving public access to health services such as dental care, counselling and physiotherapy.