Overall, the Budget said the Social Security budget Social security and welfare function are estimated to increase by 3.3 per cent in real terms from 2016-17 to 2017-18, and by 8.9 per cent in real terms from 2017-18 to 2020-21.
The most significant driver of growth is the assistance to people with disabilities sub-function, which is expected to grow by 19.1 per cent in real terms from 2016-17 to 2017-18, and by 23.0 per cent in real terms from 2017-18 to 2020-21, reflecting the progressive implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). This sub-function includes Commonwealth as well as State and Territory contributions to the NDIS. Other drivers include the assistance to the aged sub-function, which is expected to grow by 1.2 per cent in real terms between 2016-17 and 2017-18, and by 8.7 per cent in real terms between 2017-18 and 2020-21; the assistance to families with children sub-function, which is expected to increase by 1.7 per cent in real terms between 2017-18 and 2020-21; and the assistance to the unemployed and the sick sub-function, which is expected to increase by 16.8 per cent in real terms between 2017-18 and 2020-21.
The principal driver of growth over the forward estimates for the assistance to the aged sub-function is income support for seniors, which is estimated to grow by 0.1 per cent in real terms from 2016-17 to 2017-18, and by 7.7 per cent in real terms from 2017-18 to 2020-21, reflecting demographic changes. Growth in these years is partially moderated by the reduction in expenses associated with incremental increases in the age pension age.
Also contributing to growth from 2017-18 to 2020-21 is an increase in expenses associated with home care, home support and residential and flexible aged care programs, largely reflecting demographic factors.
CHSP and Regional Assessment Services funding
The Budget provides $5.5 billion over two years from 2018-19 to extend the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) and Regional Assessment Services (RAS) funding arrangements.
National Health Reform Agreement
The Budget provides $754.0 million over five years from 2016-17 to extend revised arrangements for aged care and disability services under the 2011 National Health Reform Agreement (NHRA). Implementing the NHRA in WA will include transitioning Home and Community Care services for people aged 65 years and over to the Commonwealth Home Support Programme from 1 July 2018 and transitioning older people in Specialist Disability Services in WA to the Commonwealth Continuity of Support Program from 1 July 2019.
Modernise the aged care payments system
The Government will provide $67.3 million in 2017-18 to modernise the health and aged care payments system and ensure that the Government continues to own and operate the ICT systems that deliver Medicare, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, aged care and related payments.
This measure will enable market engagement, procurement and design work to continue, which is required to replace aging ICT systems that deliver a number of Commonwealth payments. This measure also includes funding for essential maintenance of current ICT systems.
Aged care workforce
The Government will provide $1.9 million over two years from 1 July 2017 to establish and support an industry-led aged care workforce taskforce. The taskforce will explore options to improve productivity in the aged care workforce and contribute to the development of an aged care workforce strategy, including for regional and remote areas. The cost of this measure will be met from within the existing resources of the Department of Health.
The Budget also provides assistance to service providers in rural, regional and outer suburban areas to provide the workforce to meet expected growth in the disability and aged care sectors arising from introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme and an ageing population by investing $33.0 million over three years from 2017-18. The cost will be met from existing resources of the Department of Social Services and the Department of Health.
My Aged Care
The Budget provides $3.1 million in 2017-18 to support the operations of the My Aged Care platform.
Boosting the Local Care Workforce
The Budget provides for increased assistance to service providers in rural, regional and outer suburban areas to provide the workforce required to meet the expected growth in the disability and aged care sectors arising from the introduction of the NDIS and an ageing population by investing $33.0 million over three years from 2017-18. It will be funded from within the existing Department of Social Services and the Department of Health budgets.
Residency Requirements for Pensioners
The Government will save $119.1 million over five years from 2016-17 by revising the residency requirements for claimants of the Age Pension and the Disability Support Pension (DSP).
From 1 July 2018, claimants will be required to have 15 years of continuous Australian residence before being eligible to receive the Age Pension or DSP unless they have either:
- 10 years continuous Australian residence, with five years of this residence being during their working life (16 years of age to Age Pension age); or
- 10 years continuous Australian residence, without having received an activity tested income support payment for a cumulative period of five years.
Existing exemptions for DSP applicants who acquire their disability in Australia will continue to apply.
Liquid Assets Waiting Period
Savings of $138.5 million over four years from 2017-18 will be achieved by increasing from 13 weeks to 26 weeks the maximum Liquid Assets Waiting Period when a claimant’s liquid assets are equal to or exceed $18,000 for singles without dependants or $36,000 for couples and singles with dependants.
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