5 changes to Centrelink family benefits that will cost you big in 2017

Going, going, gone.

By Amber Manto
Brace yourself, you're likely to be a whole lot worse off financially in 2017 due to the restructure of many Centrelink payments, which have been tweaked in order to make the system more sustainable. Most of these have already come into effect, or will do in the next few months. Let's break down the five main changes that could affect your family.

1. Schoolkids Bonus scrapped

Eligible families (those with a household income under $100,000) will no longer receive the twice-yearly Schoolkids Bonus lump-sum payments. That's a loss of $430 if your child is in primary school or a whopping $856 if they're in high school.In other words, if your family has two children in primary school, you'll be out of pocket $860 this year. Ouch.

2. Single Income Family Supplement axed (kinda)

This $300 annual payment will no longer be paid to new applicants at the end of the financial year (June 30). If you currently receive the payment, you will continue to - as long as you remain eligible.

3. Parental Leave, Dad and Partner Pay and Fringe Benefits to count as income

If your bub was born after October 1 last year, the Parental Leave or Dad and Partner Pay you receive will now count as income by Centrelink, meaning your other income support payment benefits (such as Parenting Payment or the Family Tax Benefit) may be reduced or you'll no be eligible to receive them.
Similarly if you receive any fringe benefits, AKA work perks, such as health insurance, rent-assistance or a car, then Centrelink will also count these as income which again, may affect your other benefits which could see you out of pocket.

4. Part A of the Family Tax Benefit capped differently

If your household income is more than $80,000 at the end of the tax year, you'll no longer be eligible for the Part A supplement of the FTB. This lump-sum payment is dished out at the end of financial year and can be up to $726.35 per child.

5. Childcare costs to rise

It's the same old story, really, isn't it? You can expect to be hit with a 5 per cent increase on childcare this year and for the following three, outlines a report by the Department of Education.
According to the report, the national average day rate for 10 hours of care in 2016 was $88 meaning it will rise to $92.40 per day this year. Doesn't sound like much but to put that into perspective, if your child is currently in childcare five days a week, 10 hours a day for a full year and you pay the national average day rate, you can expect to be out of pocket an extra $1144 this year.
It's not all doom and gloom, though. You can currently claim up to $7500 of your childcare costs, regardless of income. However, the Government is trying to reform the system which would mean there would be no cap on how much families with a combined income of less than $185,710 can claim. Those earning over that amount will be given rebates up to $10,000.
Hold your breath though and just pray this one passes, sooner rather than later for your bank balance's sake.

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