2 April 2019

The Federal Treasurer, Mr Josh Frydenberg, handed down the 2019/20 Federal Budget at 7:30 pm (AEDT) on 2 April 2019.

Mr Frydenberg said the Budget is “back in the black”, announcing a budget surplus of $7.1b, and forecasting a surplus of $11b in 2020/21, $17.8b in 2021/22 and $9.2b in 2022/23. The budget focuses on “restoring the nation’s finances”, further strengthening the economy to create more jobs and to “guarantee the essential services”.

The full Budget papers are available at www.budget.gov.au and the Treasury ministers’ media releases are available at ministers.treasury.gov.au.

The social security highlights are set out below.

• There will be a one-off Energy Assistance Payment of $75 for singles and $62.50 for each member of a couple eligible for qualifying payments on 2 April 2019 and who are resident in Australia.

• Single Touch Payroll reports lodged by employers will be shared with social security agencies from 1 July 2020.
• Family Tax Benefit eligibility will be extended to the families of ABSTUDY (secondary) student recipients who are aged 16 years and over, and are required to live away from home to attend secondary school.
• From 1 July 2019, net income generated from the forced sale of livestock will be exempted from the Farm Household Allowance payment assessment, when that income is invested into a farm management deposit.
• The HELP debt incurred for recognised teaching qualifications after teachers have been placed in very remote locations of Australia for four years (or part time equivalent) will be extinguished. Indexation on HELP debts of all teachers while they are placed in very remote locations will no longer accrue from 14 February 2019.

 

Energy Assistance Payment

There will be a one-off Energy Assistance Payment of $75 for singles and $62.50 for each member of a couple eligible for qualifying payments on 2 April 2019 and who are resident in Australia.

Qualifying payments are the Age Pension, Carer Payment, Disability Support Pension, Parenting Payment Single, the Veterans’ Service Pension and the Veterans’ Income Support Supplement, Veterans’ disability payments, War Widow(er)s Pension, and permanent impairment payments under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (including dependent partners) and the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988.

This measure builds on the 2017/18 Budget measure “Energy Assistance Payment”.

 

Social security payments reporting to be verified by Single Touch Payroll

Individuals who receive income support payments from the Department of Human Services (DHS) will have their reported income matched with Single Touch Payroll (STP) reports from 1 July 2020. Under this arrangement, DHS will be able to verify on a more frequent basis the ability for the recipient to make a claim.

The requirement to report income on a regular basis will still lie with the individual recipient. However, current arrangements require this regular reporting (mainly fortnightly) to be data matched with income tax return lodgments. Implementing verification of payments with STP reports will allow DHS to make amendments to an individual’s entitlement in a more efficient manner. This reduces the chance of long outstanding debts to accrue.

 

Family Tax Benefit extended to ABSTUDY students away from home

Family Tax Benefit eligibility will be extended to the families of ABSTUDY (secondary) student recipients who are aged 16 years and over, and are required to live away from home to attend secondary school.

The measure aims to improve access to secondary education for indigenous Australians to help reduce the gap in outcomes between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians in high school completion.

 

Income from forced sale of livestock invested into farm management deposit

From 1 July 2019, net income generated from the forced sale of livestock will be exempted from Farm Household Allowance (FHA) payment assessment, when that income is invested into a farm management deposit.

The measure is to ensure that FHA recipients who are destocking retain access to income support and are able to make long-term financial plans for their future.

 

HELP debt for teachers in remote communities to be extinguished

To encourage teachers to work in remote communities, the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) debt incurred for recognised teaching qualifications after teachers have been placed in very remote locations of Australia for four years (or part time equivalent) will be extinguished. To be eligible, the four year placement must commence on or after the start of the 2019 school year.

Additionally, from 14 February 2019 indexation will no longer accrue on the HELP debts of all teachers while they are placed in very remote locations.

These measures form part of the Indigenous Youth Education Package for the government’s initiative, Closing the Gap refresh.

 

Disclaimer: This article contains general information only and is not intended to constitute financial product advice. Any information provided or conclusions made, whether express or implied, do not take into account the investment objectives, financial situation and particular needs of an investor. It should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional advice.