Fair go gone with welfare budget cuts


Welfare groups are upset pensioners, families, people with disabilities and youth are doing the heavy lifting to repair the federal budget.

Welfare groups have accused the Abbott government of dumping Australia's sense of a fair go after targeting payments to unemployed young people, families, pensioners and people with disabilities in its first budget.

"There are measures in this budget that rip the guts out of what remains of a fair and egalitarian Australia," St Vincent de Paul Society chief John Falzon said.

Tough new work-for-the dole measures will force people aged 18-30 to "earn or learn".

Those wanting government assistance will now have to wait six months before qualifying for support and will then have to undertake a six-month compulsory participation program.

"This is the harshest cut of all," ACTU president Ged Kearney said.

Families are also in the firing line but parents receiving assistance towards the cost of raising their kids have won a small reprieve before budget pain begins for some from next year.

Payment rates for the Family Tax Benefit will remain at current levels until July 2016, but a year earlier the government wants families booted off part B when their youngest child turns six.

Also from mid-2015 there will be a new part B income test of $100,000, down from $150,000.

There's some good news for single mothers hit by welfare cuts under the previous Labor government.

Tens of thousands of single mothers were left $60 to $100 worse off a week when they were pushed off parenting payments and onto the Newstart Allowance.

From July 2015 single parents receiving the maximum rate of Family Tax Benefit part A will receive an extra $750 for each child aged between six and 12, once their youngest turns six.

Labor's school kids bonus, worth $410 a year for primary school pupils and $820 a year for high school students, is for the chopping block.

The payment was linked to the minerals resource rent tax which the Abbott government wants to abolish.

Meanwhile, Gen X and Y Australians on the disability support pension will be required to undertake work experience or some form of employment activity.

But people with severe impairments, terminal illnesses or who have the capacity to work less than eight hours a week will be exempt.

From January 2015, recipients will only be able to travel abroad for four weeks - down from six - before their payments are cut off.

The government is on a collision course with seniors after revealing it won't be so generous with future increases to the age pension.

The coalition is sticking to its pledge to do nothing in its first term but big changes are in the pipeline.

From late 2017 - and after the next election - indexed increases to the age pension will be linked to the consumer price index instead of the highest rate available, generally male average earnings.

Seniors intend taking the change on notice.

"I foresee them now sharpening their pencils as they go into the ballot box," National Seniors chief Michael O'Neill said.

As previously flagged, eligibility for the age pension will increase to 70 years by July 2035.

There was some good news for the disability sector in the budget.

The government has not moved to delay the rollout of the national disability insurance scheme.

Source AAP

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