Another year of tightening the belt for single mums
By now, you will have read that there are plenty of Centrelink changes that will mean a lot less money for you and your family in 2017. What you may not realise is that single parents, so far, have been shielded from some of the biggest cuts. Shielded by Labor, Greens and cross-bench senators who are now under intense pressure to yield to a government trying to rein in government debt (and pay for their promised company tax cuts).
However, that could all change very quickly because the government has six billion dollars worth of payment cuts, some directly targeting single parent families, that they are desperately trying to get through the parliament as soon as possible. Treasurer Scott Morrison has spent a good part of early January flying around the country talking to senators about supporting savings measures that will hit your family hard.
The very popular $4.5 billion Schoolkids Bonus (SKB) scheme is gone forever. All families with income under $100,000 used to get $215 for each primary school aged child in January and again in July for a total of $430. Each high school aged child used to receive $428 in January and July for a total of $856 per year. Now you will need to pay for all your back-to-school costs without that assistance.
Parents who work could see their Centrelink payments reduce progressively or cut out completely over the next four years because most family and parenting payment income limits have been frozen until 2020.
The Energy supplement has been axed for new applicants from March 2017. So if you are thinking about applying for Parenting Payment or another Centrelink benefit, do it now. This cut means a loss of up to $7.28 per child per fortnight in Family Tax Benefit Part A payments. Plus up to $2.80 per family per fortnight in FTB Part B payments. New Parenting Payment recipients will lose an additional $12.00 or more per fortnight, compared to what existing parents will continue to receive.
Families with household incomes over $80,000 will lose their FTB Part A end-of-year supplement completely. That is a loss of up to $726 per child.
The Single Income Family Bonus has been axed for new applicants only. Existing recipients will keep their Single Income Family Supplement. This $300 payment is for families with one main income earner who earns more than $68,000.
Any fringe benefits you get from your employer, like a car, phone or help with rent or mortgage repayments will now be 100 per cent counted as income for Centrelink purposes. This new rule does not apply to employees working for charities and health services.
Working mums with babies born after 1 October 2016 who get Parental Leave Pay could see other Centrelink payments go down because PLP (and Dad and Partner Pay) now counts as income for Centrelink purposes.
Abolish all Family Tax Benefit end of year supplements for everyone. That’s $726 per child in FTB Part A supplements and $354 per family in FTB Part B supplement.
Axe Pensioner Education Supplement. Single parents who study can receive up to $62.40 per fortnight to help with education costs. That is on the chopping block now.
Axe Family Tax Benefit Part B when your youngest child turns 13. FTB Part B helps low, single income families only. This cut has already been applied to partnered single income families.
One way or another, pretty much all single mums will have to support their families with less money than they had in 2016. All we can say is good luck, you are not alone, we are all feeling the pressure.
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Jason is a business and finance journalist with 20 years experience, and is also a member of the SingleMum.com.au Expert Opinion Panel. He has a regular weekly column in the Sunday Mail (Brisbane) and writes regularly for the Business Daily section of the Herald Sun in Melbourne and many other newspapers and magazines. Read Jason Bryce's full profile here
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