It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the vast amount of information coming out of yesterday’s Federal Budget. We’ve combed through it to find five key ways the Budget affects families.
It looks like preschools will be able to offer fifteen hours of four-year-old kinder for one more year, but the future is hazy after that. Early Childhood Australia (ECA) says the Federal Budget has set aside money to negotiate a one-year extension to the Universal Access to Early Education program, introduced last year to increase kinder hours.
“We welcome the extension of preschool funding for another year, but the Government does need to provide certainty for families by providing a long term agreement,” says ECA chief executive Samantha Page. “Without further funding, the system is expected to be dramatically scaled back.”
Advocacy group The Parenthood has started a petition, already signed by more than 1500 parents, urging Prime Minister Tony Abbott to maintain the funding after the program expires at the end of this year. The Government will provide $12.6 million over four years towards occasional care.
Paid parental leave
No surprises here – the Abbott Government’s controversial paid parental leave scheme has received much publicity since before the Federal Election. The Budget papers are scant on detail – because the Federal Government says it is still negotiating details with the states – but it is expected to give working primary carers of children born or adopted on or after July 1 next year access to six months of parental leave pay of up to $50,000.
Family tax benefit
The threshold for Family Tax Benefit Part B has been lowered from $150,000 to $100,000 and will only be paid until the youngest child turns six (presently it cuts off when the youngest child turns sixteen). Family Tax Benefit Part A will start to decline when family income exceeds $94,316 a year. Payments will be frozen – not keeping up with the cost of living – for two years.
The Family Tax Benefit A and B end-of-year supplements will drop from $726.35 to $600 and $354.05 to $300 respectively. According to the Budget, parents will now have to have four kids, instead of three, to get the large family supplement on Family Tax Benefits.
But low-income single parents will get a new supplement of $750 for each child aged six to twelve. The Childcare Rebate will remain at $7500 a child.
Going to the doctor will cost $7 more than it does now. Of that, $5 will go to the new $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund and the other $2 will go to the doctor. Children under sixteen only be billed the co-payment for their first ten visits a year. The Government will also introduce from January 1 a $5 fee for each prescription subsidised by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
Schools funding cuts
The Gonski agreement negotiated by the Gillard government will be axed, as $80 billion is cut from health and education funding over ten years. The School Kids’ Bonus will also be scrapped. The Budget slashes $20 million from the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, a $21 million centre for quality teaching and learning promised by Labor, and money for the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. It does, however, provide $243.8 million over four years for a scheme that will allow schools to apply for a $20,000 grant to employ a chaplain.
Hit or miss? How will this Budget affect your family’s finances?