“This year’s Budget is a lost opportunity to tackle inequality. Instead, we’ve gotten another Budget that pits Australians against each other,” Anglicare Australia Executive Director, Kasy Chambers said today.
“Support payments for job seekers, pensioners, and people with disabilities have become a poverty trap. They’re so low that paying rent means you can’t then afford to buy food, clothing, transport or go to the doctor.
“This Budget has frozen those payments at dangerously low levels, ignoring calls from the business and community sectors to increase them as a matter of urgency.
“Australians on low incomes are struggling to make ends meet. But instead of offering relief, people who need help from the government are being scapegoated, with the Budget targeting Centrelink recipients with a demerit scheme and expanding the cashless welfare trial.
“And anyone who has had much to do with Centrelink will see the irony in the demerit system. Cuts to Centrelink and its staff have led to rampant mistakes to the point where nobody could have confidence in its accuracy when doling out ‘demerit points’.
“Why should we assume the worst of people trying to navigate their way through byzantine Centrelink procedures that its own staff can’t work out?
“We’re also disappointed to see another attempt to cut family tax benefits. These families were already experiencing financial stress. It is not fair to ask them to shoulder the burden of balancing the Budget.”
Ms Chambers welcomed positive aspects of the Budget on housing and the NDIS.
“There are promising signs on housing in this Budget. The Government has committed to raising money from the right places and funding measures that make a good start on tackling homelessness and making housing more affordable. For example, the bond aggregator for community housing is good news.
“The onus is now on all levels of Government to work together to negotiate an agreement that delivers a desperately needed funding increase.
“We’re also pleased the see a commitment to fully fund the NDIS through the Medicare Levy.
“There is a lesson for the Government inthe NDIS – Australians are willing to come together and support each other.
“Punishing people won’t achieve anything. At the end of the day, we’re all in this together.”
Click here to download Anglicare Australia's budget analysis, 2017 Budget Fast Facts.