This Federal budget Summary information has been updated with information to changes to the Pensioner Education Supplement.
The Budget is not in yet
Before they become law, the three main Budget appropriation bills must be passed by the Senate in the same way as any other bill. The appropriation bills are first introduced into the House of Representatives and must complete their consideration in that House before they can be formally considered by the Senate.
Changes affecting the Broader Disability Sector
- The government has honored its pre-election commitment to the National Disability Insurance Scheme, making no changes to the funding structure or the schedule for roll out of the scheme.
- The government will establish a new Disability and Carers Industry Advisory Council to provide advice on how the lives of people with disabilities and carers can be improved. The Council aims to bring together the service sector, peak bodies and people with disabilities and assist them to work closely with Government on policies affecting people with disability and investigate ways to reduce red tape across the sector.
- The government intends to expand the number of non-government service providers offering Disability Employment Services. This will provide the opportunity to align DES providers within the broader disability services framework, including DES Employment services and the NDIS.
- The Government has committed an additional $304 million over four years to boost the wage subsidy for mature age job seekers. The Restart Program will provide up to $10,000 to employers who hire a mature age job seeker (including those on DSP) aged 50 years or over; payments will be staged over a period of two years.
- The government has announced that it will be reducing the number of Human Rights Commissioners by one. This is expected to occur in July 2014, which coincides with the completion of the term of the current Disability Discrimination Commissioner. An existing Commissioner will need to take on a dual appointment in order to fulfill the responsibilities of the role.
- The government has announced Operational funding cuts to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) of close to 40 million dollars over four years. This may feed into the ABC’s arguments against providing an ongoing audio description service for Australians who are blind or vision impaired.
Changes Affecting Income Support
- From September 2017, all pensions, including the Disability Support Pension and Carer Payment, will be indexed against the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rather than Male Total Average Weekly Earnings; resulting in a lower rate of income growth. If this new indexation system had been in place for the last four years, a single Disability Support Pensioner on the maximum rate of pension would today be $1,560 worse off every year.
- The federal government is proposing to abolish the Pensioner Education Supplement from January 1 2015. The Pensioner Education Supplement provides financial assistance with the ongoing costs of full-time or part-time study in a secondary or tertiary course at an educational institution approved by the Australian Government. Recipients of the DSP (blind) who are studying are currently considered to be eligible for this supplement.
- DSP recipients under 35 years who have an assessed work capacity of at least 8 hours a week and a participation plan will be subject to compulsory activity requirements, such as participating in a disability employment program or education and training (sanctions for non-compliance will be introduced). Those DSP recipients who were granted on manifest grounds are exempt from these conditions. Blindness is viewed as a manifest disability and therefore, these changes will not impact upon people receiving DSP (blind).
- DSP recipients under 35 years who were granted DSP between 1 January 2008 and 31 December 2011 will be reviewed (using the revised Disability Impairment Tables introduced in January 2012). People granted DSP before January 2008 or who have a manifest disability, such as blindness, are exempt from these conditions.
- From 20 September 2017 the deeming provision thresholds for payments which are means tested will be reset to $30,000 for singles and $50,000 for couples (for both pensioners and allowed). The current thresholds are $46,600 for singles, $77,400 for pensioner couples and $38,700 for members of allowed couples. While this won’t directly affect single recipients of the DSP (blind), it will have an impact on those receiving couple payments.
- The period that a DSP recipient can continue receiving payments while travelling overseas has reduced from six weeks to four weeks (within any 12 month period). Since January 2013, individuals receiving DSP (blind) have been able to apply for indefinite portability while travelling overseas. With the proposed budget changes, indefinite portability will no longer be able to be granted.