The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) has released its Budget Priorities Statement for the 2019-2020 Federal Budget. Asserting that the budget position is unbalanced and unsustainable, the submission proposes a rebalancing in favour of neglected services and people facing financial hardship and disadvantage, and away from wasteful schemes the Council considers unaffordable, such as the rebate for private health insurance and tax concessions for retirees who are already living comfortably. This would help prepare for the impacts of a future economic downturn.

Key recommendations

The submission includes policy proposals in the areas of community services, employment, social security, revenue, housing and homelessness, health, and climate and energy. Main recommendations include:

  • Investment of $2 billion in community services to restore funds cut to frontline services and respond to growing demand and rising costs.
  • Expanding wage subsidies for employers, training for people looking for paid work, employer engagement and career advice through a $500 million employment services reform package.
  • Raising the rate of Newstart and Youth Allowance for single people by a minimum of $75 a week at a cost of $3.3 billion.
  • Increasing Family Tax Benefit for older children to meet rising costs and introduce a Single Parent Supplement to reduce child poverty at of cost of $630 million.
  • A major direct capital investment in social housing, complemented by a new rental housing incentive which would guarantee affordability for people on the lowest incomes and a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander housing strategy.
  • A $320 million boost to funding for public dental services to double the number of adults treated over the next five years.

ACOSS notes that these funding proposals can be offset by more than $15 billion in revenue raising measures, including reforms to negative gearing, capital gains tax, superannuation fund earnings tax, alcohol and sweetened drinks taxes, fossil fuel subsidies and dividend imputation (franking) credits.

(Source: Media release | ACOSS Budget Submission)

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