Thursday, 11 May 2023 10:18

Budget baby steps welcome, but it's not enough Featured

Supporting our community Supporting our community WSROC

The peak body representing councils in Greater Western Sydney, the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC), has welcomed some of the federal government’s 2023 budget initiatives – particularly those providing relief for people struggling on low incomes – but says much more needs to be done.

“The Prime Minister Mr Albanese has said the federal budget aims to build ‘a stronger economy and a fairer society’, but with Australia’s wealth gap widening, the modest measures announced in the 2023 federal budget, while welcome, simply won’t be enough to lift some of our most vulnerable out of poverty,” said WSROC President, Clr BarryRelief for people struggling on low incomes 2 Calvert.

“Supporting vulnerable communities is a key consideration under all WSROC’s strategic priorities.

“The cost of housing and rents has become a crushing burden for many Western Sydney families, so we were pleased to see that people getting fortnightly Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA) – a program for low-income Australians – should receive an additional 15 per cent in financial support from 20 September.

“A single CRA recipient with no dependants and who does not share their rental home with anyone else, and who is receiving the maximum amount of assistance, would see their payment increase to $180.80 a fortnight – so a tad over $90 a week.

“However, the average asking rent in Western Sydney as of 28 February was $565.58 – a jump of $123 or 27.8 per cent over the same time last year alone, according to the SQM Research Weekly Rents Index.

“And for those in the rental market who don’t qualify for low-income support payments and who are struggling to secure accommodation or dealing with rising rents, there is not much by way of relief at all.

“It remains to be seen, too, whether government incentives to boost the supply of build-to-rent schemes will put downward pressure on rents.

“WSROC is pleased though that the government will increase the basic rates of support payments — including Jobseeker, Youth Allowance, the Partnered Parenting Payment and Austudy — by $40 a fortnight and is extending eligibility for the higher single Jobseeker payment to those aged over 55 who have been on the payment for more than nine months.

“Other welcome initiatives include extending the single parenting payment until the youngest child turns 14 and tripling the bulk-billing incentive that GPs receive, meaning there will be more common consultation types can be bulk billed.

“One important initiative which will be welcomed by many Western Sydney residents is the government’s announcement that pensioners, seniors’ health card holders, low- and single-income Family Tax Benefit A and B recipients, and small business operators will have up to $500 deducted from their power bills next financial year.

“Western Sydney communities are struggling already with spiralling energy bills, record petrol prices, unprecedented grocery costs, unaffordable housing and sluggish wage growth,” said Councillor Calvert.

“They didn’t cause the current energy supply crisis. Government, the energy market regulators and energy suppliers have a moral responsibility to those being most severely affected by soaring energy costs.”

WSROC did also welcome the announcement of an independent strategic review to ensure the Government’s $120 billion infrastructure pipeline over the next 10 years is fit for purpose.

Last modified on Thursday, 11 May 2023 10:56

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