Centrelink is an Australian Government agency that works with other government community organisation and departments to links people to the resources and services they require. They are responsible for providing a range of services and unemployment benefits to the Australian citizens who have low income or without an income. In 2017, the Australian government has brought about some major changes to different payments like family tax benefits, school kids bonus, childcare assistance, parental leave pay and other payments. Such changes to the Centrelink benefits have affected millions of Australian citizens.
If you have recently lost your job or have been managing on low income it is important that you first understand what your financial position is and how you can make the best use of the funds that you have at your disposal. Centrelink will provide you with information on the wide range of programs and services available. You will also find details about the various income support payments meant for people who are looking for work. They will help you to understand your options and provide information on investment and retirement planning.
Some of the Centrelink benefits, payments and services include-
Centrelink will determine your eligibility to a range of payments and services which include-
Family Tax Benefit
As result of redundancy, you will be entitles to Family Tax Benefit.
If you are a low income earner you can qualify for a Health Care Card or Concession Card that will entitle you to discounts on health, transport as well as on education expenses.
You may receive Rent Assistance if you rent in the private market so that you can pay your rent. The amount of rent you are entitled to will depend on your individual circumstances.
You can apply for Advance Payment if you are a Centrelink income support recipient that you can easily re-pay through fortnightly deductions directly from the benefit you receive.
Automatic bill payment
You can choose to utilise the services of Centrepay, Centrelink’s automatic debit system to have money for your regular bills like rent, gas, electricity and water. You can easily pay for your bills fortnightly in instalments so that the monthly and quarterly bills become more manageable.
Some of the recent changes to Centrelink benefits are-
Axed Schoolkids Bonus (SKB)
The Australian government has axed the $4.5 billion Schoolkids Bonus scheme, which means families with household incomes less than $100,000 shall not receive SKB payments. Earlier, under this scheme parents of primary school aged child used to receive $430 a year and for high school age child they receive $856 per year. So this means under the new scheme a family with two kids will now lose up to $1,712 per year.
Cost of childcare rise by 5%
According to the Commonwealth Department of Education, in 2017 the cost of childcare rose by about five per cent. Besides, since 2009 the rebate offered by Centrelink that repays 50% out-of-pocket childcare costs has been capped at $7,500 per family per year.
Parental Leave Pay is now assessed as income
Families with children born after 1 October 2016 will now get their Parental Leave Pay as income for Centrelink purposes, which could transform into Family Tax Benefits. This will affect all working families with household incomes below $150,000.
Change in Family Tax Benefit
The two types of Family Tax Benefit, Part A and Part B, are paid at the end-of-financial year. Families with a combined household income over $80,000 in one year will lose their Family Tax Benefit Part A supplement of up to $726 per child, which will ultimately affect their tax return.
Reduced public dental-health benefits
The public dental-health services for kids have also been affected with a new federal funding scheme, under which the benefits will be reduced from $1,000 to $700.