Monday, 19 December 2016 16:56

Mixed bag of measures in mid year economic review

The Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) contains a mixed bag of measures, UnitingCare Australia’s Acting National Director Martin J. Cowling said today.

“UnitingCare Australia understands the need for fiscal responsibility and restraint and broadly endorses the Government’s disciplined fiscal strategy with its emphasis on economic growth and jobs. We believe to create a more equitable society the focus needs to be on improving Government revenue. This should include a rethink of previously announced corporate tax cuts.

“UnitingCare Australia particularly welcomes the funding of the Launch into Work pilot aiming to improve employment outcomes for disadvantaged job seekers. UnitingCare Australia has previously partnered with the Government to deliver a program of this kind, and we very much look forward to continuing our involvement after a number of successful pilots.

“We also welcome additional funding for the Fair Work Ombudsman to enhance the protection of vulnerable workers and funding to boost and support employment of people with disabilities. We also appreciate that the Government has recognised the need to support people in the transition to the NDIS.

“Some of the measures announced or confirmed in today’s MYEFO may have an adverse impact on vulnerable job seekers.  Amongst those of greatest concern are the ‘efficiencies’ to be achieved by reducing the wage subsidy for people over 25 and the savings in the Youth Employment Youth Jobs PaTH and Green Army programs.

“When viewed together, the measures send a very mixed message about the Government’s approach to supporting people into long term employment, including those aged over 25 years who may face a range of complex challenges in finding and maintaining work,” said Mr Cowling.

UnitingCare Australia urges the Government to be cautious in its approach to preventing welfare fraud and improving its debt recovery capacity.

“No-one condones welfare fraud, particularly as it depletes the resources available to those genuinely in need but Government needs to be cautious in its approach ensuring vulnerable individuals and families are not unfairly penalised. 

“The impact on vulnerable families through the application of additional savings to the Family Tax Benefit Parts A and B is also of concern to UnitingCare Australia.”

Mr Cowling said UnitingCare Australia had previously welcomed the Government’s announcement of the extension of the funding for the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness and called for the Government to collaborate with the States and homelessness service providers on developing an effective long term strategy for preventing and responding to homelessness. He indicated that the establishment of an Affordable Housing Implementation Taskforce was a further positive step.

Mr Cowling said the measures relating to older people were also very mixed.

“UnitingCare Australia has consistently opposed the reduction of funding to support people in residential aged care and while we welcome the Government’s revised approach, we again emphasise that it is not possible to remove some $2 billion in funding without having a significant negative impact on the quality of care.

“We are pleased to see funding has been allocated for the establishment of Specialist Dementia Care Units and to help prevent and address elder abuse.  UnitingCare organisations have a strong interest and expertise in both of these areas and are keen to work with Government in progressing the implementation of these initiatives”.

Mr Cowling said UnitingCare Australia also welcomed the allocation of funding for the design of the redress scheme for survivors of child sexual abuse.

ENDS

Contact: UnitingCare Australia Acting National Director Martin J. Cowling. Ph: 0437 544 487.