It was billed as the ‘women’s budget’ ahead of its delivery earlier this month, but new analysis of the Coalition’s eighth budget found it was spending 30 times more on tax cuts than on security. economic women.
The Australian Council of Social Services analysis found that the 2021-22 budget boosted services for women’s safety, but failed to invest in the investments needed for women to achieve economic security, particularly those with low incomes, without doing anything to effect structural change.
The National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW), in a separate review, also found an opportunity for change. He recommends that a ministerial women’s forum be created to guide spending – and that the budget razor gang, the spending review committee, incorporate a “gender perspective” into its decision-making.
“For too many years, women have taken on a greater share of unpaid work in the economy, which has undermined our economic security; left us vulnerable to violence at home and at work; and have affected our health and well-being, ”NFAW reported in its latest analysis.
“These were the three themes of the 2021-2022 women’s budget statement, but few significant reforms have been proposed. The NFAW welcomes the reintroduction of the Women’s Budget Statement, which reports on some of the spending in these key areas, but does not present a clear reform agenda. “
The Acoss study found that the Coalition’s latest budget “locks in gender inequalities by ignoring the fact that tax, employment and pension systems are stacked in favor of men” .
“It does nothing to specifically support low-income single mothers or older women who struggle to find paid work and who face homelessness,” according to the report.
“To help low-income women, we needed to see social security payments lowered above the poverty line; employment services that address gender and age discrimination and investment in affordable housing. Instead, $ 30 billion a year is spent on income and business tax cuts, which will further reinforce gender inequalities and jeopardize future funding for the services women rely on. “
The government has maintained its commitment to the third stage of tax cuts, even though it must now use deficit spending to fund it. It extended tax compensation for low and middle incomes by one year as a stimulus, but that is set to expire, while the third stage cuts, legislated to take effect in 2024, continue in perpetuity. .
Acoss estimates that the third stage of the tax cuts will see men benefiting from twice the tax cut as women, with men accounting for 70% of the annual value of the cuts compared to women. Men will save an average of almost $ 3,000 per year, while women will only have $ 637.
In its own review, the National Foundation for Australian Women concluded that it would be more beneficial if the tax compensation for low and middle income was paid through a payment rather than a tax break, and “must” be maintained beyond its expiration to have real impact.
“We recommend that the Step 3 tax cuts be reviewed, to ensure that tax recoveries are sufficient to pay for the necessary level of social infrastructure spending,” NFAW concluded.
“Otherwise, we run the risk of cutting back on these essential programs when ‘budget fix’ becomes a feature of the economy.”
The NFAW also felt the government needed to do more to correct the retirement pension gap between men and women, especially for those who had withdrawn up to $ 20,000 from their super under the government’s Covid allowances. Women, on average, will retire with about 20% less in their retirement pension compared to men.
Income support is another area where the two reports concluded the government had dropped the ball – Acoss found that women made up the majority of benefit recipients, and the loss of the Covid supplement plunged 1.2 million more people in poverty.
Older women and single parents, 95% of whom are women, were most at risk of living in poverty because benefits “do not cover basic costs”.