Federal Budget 2015 – what it means for families

The federal government says the 2015 budget is for “parents juggling the complexities of modern life” as it tonight promised to spend almost $40 billion dollars to support families next year. But what’s really in the 2015 budget for families?

Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey tonight admitted in his budget speech that Australian parents are performing a difficult balancing act, as they try to work and raise families. The Treasurer says the government is keen to give parents a choice to work, and the budget measures aimed at families will respond “to the demands of 165,000 parents who want to work more, but are prevented from doing so by the current costly and complex scheme”.

The government had already flagged allocating an additional $3.5 billion for childcare reform, including new vaccination rules, a subsidised nanny scheme, and an extension of current childcare rebates.

Here’s a breakdown of the Family Package:

  • The Sydney Morning Herald reports that large families will lose $321 a year in Family Tax Benefit payments for their fourth and each subsequent child, from 1 July, 2016.
  • The federal government will also stamp out what it says is “double dipping”, as part of the paid parental leave scheme. New parents who get employer-funded parental leave won’t be able to access the minimum wage taxpayer funded scheme from July 1, 2016.
  • Almost $330 million dollars extra over four years to help give vulnerable and disadvantaged children access to childcare.
  • $33.7 million for a national support service for people adopting children from overseas.

The new Child Care Subsidy (source: Australian Government Budget 2015)

  • Families earning around $65,000 or less will receive a subsidy of 85 per cent of their child care fees (up to an hourly fee cap).
  • The subsidy will taper to 50 per cent for families earning around $170,000 or more.
  • No annual childcare rebate cap for families earning less than around $185,000. Families earning around $185,000 or more will have a $10,000 annual cap on the total amount of childcare assistance provided per child per year.
  • Stay at home mums will lose access to childcare benefits unless they can prove they are working or studying for more than four hours a week.
  • These changes will start from 1 July, 2017 with a single subsidy based on family income, replacing the Child Care Benefit, Child Care Rebate and Jobs, Education and Training Child Care Fee Assistance Programme.

Home-based care

  • $250 million has been allocated for a nanny trial program for shift workers where families earn less than $250,000.
  • The trial is expected to fund some 4000 nannies, providing subsidised care to approximately 10,000 children.

No Jab, No Pay

  • From next year, the ‘No Jab, No Pay’ immunisation rule will stop anti vaxxers having access to child care payments and Family Tax Benefit Part A end of year supplement.

Parents will also be hit in the hip pocket by the government’s plan to increase the cost of prescriptions by $5 per script from January 2016, while cuts are also mooted to four year old health checks and to the child dental scheme.

Meanwhile, the Greens have praised the childcare reforms, though new leader Richard Di Natale has criticised cuts aimed at single mums.

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