Advocacy

Social Futures response to the Federal Budget

Written byAmanda Shoebridge
Published on15 May, 2024
Building blocks with the words 2024 BUDGET

Summary

Social Futures CEO, Tony Davies, responds to the 2024 Federal Budget.

The not-for-profit organisation, Social Futures, has welcomed budget measures aimed at fighting sticky inflation and cost-of-living pressures, especially investment into new housing, but would like greater investment in social and public housing and to raise the rates of Jobseeker and Youth Allowance. 

Social Futures CEO Tony Davies said tax cuts, increases in Medicare levy thresholds, energy bill relief, Commonwealth Rent Assistance rates and cheaper medicines will help alleviate some of the pressures that cause great stress to families. But he had hoped to see more done in the midst of the housing crisis. 

“As it stands, Australia needs at least 640,000 homes for people experiencing homelessness and extreme housing stress. And this is what we need now. The budget measures are not enough to reverse the longstanding deep decline in housing and social housing availability. 

“The current government Housing Australia Future Fund (HAFF) will only pay for the construction of 30,000 social and affordable rental homes over the next five years – that is clearly not enough to meet the nation’s burgeoning housing needs. 

“The budget announcement of $9.3 billion for social and public housing sounds impressive but it is simply re-configuring existing funding – there is very little new investment to address what is a national housing emergency.  

“The lack of attention in the budget to mitigating the impacts climate change is also gravely disappointing. We will be watching the progress of the Net Zero Plan closely. 

“It is bewildering as climate change is unequivocally affecting Australian communities, with people in disadvantaged areas and those with the last capacity to withstand the impacts of climate change, being the hardest hit,” he said.   

Mr Davies said the community will welcome new measures supporting crisis and transitional accommodation for women and children fleeing domestic violence and he was glad to see the investment into this area growing. 

“We see investment for domestic and family violence related services reach $925 million over five years, which is welcome and warranted.” Mr Davies said. 

Mr Davies says he is encouraged to see $2.4 billion invested over five years to create opportunities and better outcomes for First Nations people; notably in the priority areas of jobs, health, education, justice, housing and other services. 

Increasing Jobskeeer and Youth Allowance imperative to stop more people becoming homeless

Community service organisations, including Social Futures have long been calling for an increase to JobSeeker and Youth Allowance benefits and Mr Davies expressed dismay that more wasn’t included to help those struggling to make ends meet on government payments.    

“Energy rebates and increasing rent assistance payments are of course welcome measures, but we know unemployment benefits are wholly inadequate – the government’s own appointed Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee has recommended urgent increases to Jobseeker.  

“People on these benefits are barely scratching out an existence. How can we expect them to go out and find employment, to pay for transport to work, or appropriate clothing or other necessities, when they can’t pay their rent or feed their families?  

A more equitable outcome could have been achieved if tax cuts for higher income earners were deferred, energy rebates were means tested, and funding was allocated to raising Jobseeker and Youth Allowance.  

“Overall, this budget is a step in the right direction with increased supports for people who are struggling but of course the community service sector would like the government to go further and deliver more provisions for those hit the hardest.” Mr Davies said.