The 2017 Budget was handed down last night and while the Government’s big announcement for families – generally positive changes to childcare and family payments – were announced earlier in the year, there’s still plenty of other newly-announced shifts and shuffles that affect Australian families. Here’s what you need to know:
Families will lose 30 cents of their family tax benefit for every dollar they earn over $94 316, commencing July 2018.
Other Centrelink payments
In a tough new scheme set to be rolled out more broadly, 5000 jobless welfare recipients will now be drug tested, pushed to search for work more seriously and potentially have their welfare cut or replaced with a cashless welfare card.
Childcare and education
The Government have committed an extra $2.2 billion to school funding over the next four years.
They’ve also pledged $428 million to ensure universal access to pre-school for four-year-old kids.
The Medicare rebate will increase: The government has promised to “guarantee” Medicare, saying they will progressively unfreeze the indexing of the Medicare rebate from July 2017. This means that patients will continue to have access to bulk-billing for GP visits and some specialist services – something we may have questioned in the wake of Labor’s Mediscare campaign – and it will be more in line with the cost of living, wages and inflation. The GP medicare rebate will now increase from the current $37 a visit, costing the government around $2.2b over 4 years.
“We will not see patients thinking twice before visiting doctors,” an approving Australian Medical Association president Michael Gannon told the ABC. “The changes to the safety net are good for pregnant women, people with chronic mental health problems and good for patients with cancer, who will need a lot of visits in a short time.”
The Medicare levy will increase: In 2019, the Medicare levy will increase by 0.5 percent to help fully fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
Other health related announcements included: $1.2 billion in new medicines will be made available, bulk billing incentive for diagnostic imaging and pathology will remain in place, and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme co-payment will not be increased as initially planned.
From 1 July 2017, the fortnightly Family Tax Benefit Part A payment will be reduced by $28 for each child who doesn’t meet the government’s No Jab No Pay immunisation requirements.
Single parents will be under the microscope, with stringent new policies designed to scrutinise relationship status and avoid overpayments being introduced.
Starting in September 2018, single parents will be required to have a third party sign a form confirming their single parent status. False declarations could lead to a 12 month jail sentence.
Young parents will be further encouraged to find work with an expansion of the existing ParentsNext program.
The government has promised tax benefits for those using funds that would normally go to their superannuation to fund a deposit on their first home, putting $250 million aside to fund this incentive. Starting 1 July 2017, up to $30,000 can be used as part of this scheme and both partners in a couple buying their first home can use the scheme.
Older Australian home owners will also be encouraged to downsize – and sell up – to make larger homes available for families. These elderly home owners will be offered the incentive of a non-concessional contribution of up to $300,000 into their superannuation from the proceeds of the sale.
The government has promised $5.9 million over four years to improve English literacy outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pre-school aged children.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will be fully funded by the previously mentioned Medicare levy increase.
The government pledged $3.4m over the next two years to expand and improve Specialist Domestic Violence Units.
How will the budget changes affect your family?