While the Budget provides some glimmer for hope on jobs for young people, it comes as a crushing let-down for many others without paid work, says the Australian Council of Social Service.
The Federal Budget has missed key opportunities for job creation initiatives that would have delivered public good, particularly in female-dominated sectors, instead focussing on projects that will take longer to get off the ground.
Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said: “The Federal Budget had failed to deliver a permanent, adequate JobSeeker rate. It leaves more than two million people receiving higher income support uncertain about their future beyond the end of the year, when income support rates will go to their pre-COVID levels – which, for JobSeeker, was $40 a day.
“This Budget provides a glimmer of hope on jobs for young people in a really tough year. While we welcome the wage subsidy for under-35s who are badly impacted in this recession, the Budget lets down 900,000 people on JobSeeker who are over 35. We’re calling for the wage subsidy for young people to be urgently extended to people of all ages who have been unemployed for a year or longer.
“People without paid work will see no benefit from the income tax cuts brought forward in today’s budget, which mainly go to people who are lucky enough to have jobs, with the largest amounts going to people on higher incomes. There is also no income support in this budget for people on temporary visas, who have been left behind in the pandemic.
“The country’s leading economists have been telling the Government that an adequate JobSeeker rate is far more effective than income tax cuts in generating the economic stimulus we need to rebuild out of recession. While people on higher incomes can choose to save, people on low incomes are living week-to-week and have no choice but to spend in the real economy on the basics, boosting business recovery.
“The extra funding for aged care is welcome, including 23,000 aged care packages, but this is far short of what is required to meet the shortfall for home care.
“There is some extra funding for community services, including mental health services, but again, it is insufficient.
“It is disappointing that there is no social housing investment, given the huge need for affordable housing for people on the lowest incomes.
“The Budget misses key opportunities to generate jobs quickly by investing in social housing construction to reduce homelessness, and in energy efficiency upgrades for low-income households to reduce energy bills and climate emissions.
“In a year that has not only seen the COVID-19 crisis but also the bushfire crisis, the Budget gives too much to prop up fossil fuels that contribute to the climate crisis, instead of accelerating the shift to clean energy and helping people and communities strengthen their resilience to climate impacts.
“Overall, the Budget does not deliver enough investment to pull us out of the historic slump we’re in without leaving people behind. The Government will need to do more to ensure that we are all in the recovery together,” said Dr Goldie.