13.9 C
Sydney
Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Budget 2022 must invest in fairer future for all, not more tax cuts that benefit few: ACOSS

Must read

The Federal Government’s upcoming budget should focus on investing in critical services rather than tax cuts for the wealthy, Australia’s peak welfare advocate group says.

In its budget submission to the federal treasury, ACOSS (the Australian Council of Social Service) asks the Government to take advantage of a “historic opportunity” to address longstanding inequality.

Instead of tax cuts – such as the $16 billion a year already committed, going mainly to people on higher incomes – Treasurer Josh Frydenberg must invest in tackling poverty, unemployment, the housing crisis and climate emergency, ACOSS says. 

Chief executive officer Cassandra Goldie says payment programs such as JobKeeper brought in at the start of the pandemic show the Government has the resources to solve poverty in Australia.

What sustains economic growth is putting more money into the hands of people who need it and will spend it in the real economy.

ACOSS CEO, Dr Cassandra Goldie

“We halved poverty with the fiscal response that was delivered in 2020 – it meant fewer kids went hungry, made childcare affordable and saved hundreds of thousands of jobs,” she said.

“What sustains economic growth is putting more money into the hands of people who need it and will spend it in the real economy.”

ACOSS is calling for the budget to invest in essential services, safety nets and housing affordability. 

As part of this, it wants rent assistance lifted and income support payments to be increased to at least $69 a day, up from the current $45 rate.

“(In 2020) we had the real life experiment of what it means for the economy when you properly prioritise putting resources into the hands of people who will actually spend it,” Dr Goldie said.

“We’d be much better off investing in ongoing supports for people on low and modest incomes.”

The right economic strategy is a government that invests and acts from a place of care and compassion and focuses on lifting up and protecting the incomes of people with the least.

Dr Goldie

The current crisis in aged care – where the army has been deployed to assist the overstretched workforce – is because Australian governments have consistently underinvested in critical care services, ACOSS says.

Goldie said the last thing Australia needed was – as the treasurer has signalled – a budget that had more cuts and an “irresponsible focus” on paying down debts.

“The right economic strategy is a government that invests and acts from a place of care and compassion and focuses on lifting up and protecting the incomes of people with the least,” she said.

“Debt and deficit is not the high priority right now, it should be to continue to sustain employment growth to be able to respond to uncertainties yet to come from the pandemic.”

ACOSS also warns a genuine response to climate change is needed to stop people on the lowest incomes being hit hardest from its effects.

It recommends the Government invest in energy efficiency improvements for low-income households and establish an energy transition authority to support workers and communities dependent on fossil fuels.

As outlined in the budget priorities statement, ACOSS has called for:

  • The establishment of a minimum income floor in our income support system by lifting all income support payments to at least $69 a day, which is the same level as the pension and pension supplement and indexing them to wages as well as prices.
  • A commitment to supplementary payments which meet specific needs, including lifting Commonwealth Rent Assistance by 50 per cent, providing a Disability and Illness Supplement of at least $50 a week as well as a Single Parent Supplement that recognises the costs of single parenthood.
  • The introduction of a flexible Jobs and Training Guarantee for people unemployed long- term, comprising either subsidised temporary employment, substantial further education or training, or other help to connect them directly to suitable jobs.
  • Investment of up to $5000 in energy efficiency improvements per dwelling for 1.8 million low-income homes to cut emissions, energy bills, and create thousands of local jobs.
  • A $1000 per household in emergency energy debt relief to reduce energy payment difficulties made worse by COVID.
  • The establishment of an Energy Transition Authority to provide a fair and inclusive transition for fossil fuel dependent workers and communities.
  • A 20,000 dwelling, $7 billion social housing package to be rolled out over the next three years to reduce homelessness and kick-start housing constructions and growth in jobs and incomes.
- Advertisement -

Leave a Reply

Latest article

- Advertisement -
Processing...
Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.
Email newsletter sign-up
ErrorHere