The Federal Treasurer, Joe Hockey MP handed down the Coalition Government’s much anticipated first Budget on 13 May 2014.
Some of the budgetary measures announced may affect the Charities and Not-for-Profit sector in a variety of ways:
- the charities regulator, the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC) appears to have survived (for now) the budget cuts albeit the continuing directive by the Federal Government that it will be abolished.
- the Federal Government will provide $6 million over four years to re-establish the Community Business Partnership (CSP) to advise the Government on Philanthropy. The CSP is to be chaired by the Prime Minister with an aim to provide leadership and high-level advice for encouraging growth in volunteering and philanthropy and to promote partnerships between business and community organisations.
- funding has been reduced to the National Homelessness Research Strategy. However, the Federal Government will provide $115 million in 2014-15 to extend the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness for a further year to provide temporary certainty for much needed homelessness services.
- the Federal Government also announced it would not proceed with the final round of the National Rental Affordability Scheme. However, incentives already allocated through the scheme will continue to be paid subject to eligibility requirements.
- The Federal Government announced it would cease the Housing Help for Seniors Program which would save the Federal Government approximately $173 million over the next 5 years.
- the Federal Government will achieve savings of $7.7 million by not proceeding with further grant rounds in 2013-14 under the National Respite for Carers Programme with over $965.1 million over four years remaining in the program.
- the abolition of calculating the Aged, Disability, Support and Carer pensions at the wage indexation method and replacing annual increases with CPI indexation.
- foreign aid agencies have also been affected as the Federal Government announced it would cap foreign aid for two years resulting in cuts of up to $7.9 billion.
- the Federal Government announced it is implementing a new way of allocating grants for not-for-profit providers. The Federal Government will be offering five year funding agreements totalling $1.5 billion to more than 250 service providers that deliver Communities Facilitating Partner Services, Family and Relationship Services. These arrangements will take effect from 1 July 2014. In addition, existing grant programmes will be consolidated into seven grant programmes. The new arrangements include the creation of the:
- Families and Communities Programme;
- Disability, Mental Health and Carers Programme; and
- Housing and Homelessness Programme.
- The Federal Government will provide $8.5 million over the next two years to conduct a partial tender for the Disability Management Services component of Disability Employment Services.
- The Federal Government will also introduce compulsory participation requirements for Disability Support Pension recipients aged under 35 years. These activities will vary depending on the person’s circumstances and will focus on obtaining employment.
- the introduction of the Federal Government’s $7 co-payment and a $5 reduced Medicare rebate for GP visitations may create new barriers to healthcare for many communities that are already marginalised and disadvantaged such as remotes communities.