FAMILIES with two parents and low incomes will be hit by the Labor’s decision to support Federal Government cuts to Family Tax Benefit Part B.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Labor would support the plan, but not for single-parent families or grandparents who were primary carers.
“Labor’s been prepared to work with the Government where it was fair and fiscally responsible to do so, but … Labor is making it very clear we do not support unfair cuts to grandparent carers and to single parents,” he said.
Family Tax Benefit Part B is paid to single parents and couples where the primary earner has an adjusted taxable income of up to $100, 000 a year.
It is worth up to $4339.85 for families whose youngest child is under five, and $3139.00 if the youngest child is between 5 and 18.
Catholic Social Services Australia chief executive Marcelle Mogg said the Coalition and Labor should not be taking FTB B from low and middle-income families with school age children.
“Cuts to FTB B should not discriminate against children who have two parents with a single income, in favour of sole parent families or grandparent carers,” Ms Mogg said.
“The issue here is children living in poverty. Whether the child has one or two parents should not be the basis for discrimination. We must support low-income families if we are to secure a better future for their children.
“The cuts mean single breadwinner families with the youngest child aged 13 years or older would be worse off by more than $54 a week.
“FTB B helps parents make an effective choice as to how they will balance work and family responsibilities.
“Low income families now have no choice as to how they care for their children.
“The proposed legislation would place economic pressure on couple parent families to abandon plans to have one of them stay at home to care for their children.
“The legislation further assumes that there are jobs immediately available for parents returning to the workforce.
“Many parents returning to work are likely to find that the only employment available to them is on low rates of pay, with unsociable work hours, further compromising family life.”
Ms Mogg said keeping children at school and enabling families to manage their lives and make good choices was worth far more in human and economic terms than the few dollars saved in the short term.
“The Government and Opposition should ensure parents who now have to return to work have support and training available to them, to help them find scarce jobs,” she said.
“These changes significantly limit the capacity of low income families to secure a better future for their children.
“Children need more than a household income, they need their parents present, helping them to negotiate their way through school and guide them through the teenage years.
“Family life should never be the preserve of the affluent.”