In its 2013—14 Budget, the Labor Government has again looked to tighten access and levels of family assistance to find some significant savings.
One of the standout measures is the abolition of the Baby Bonus.
The Baby Bonus is a payment intended to help families with the costs of a newborn baby or adopted child under the age of 16.
It is payable to parents whose baby is stillborn.
The Baby bonus salary cap Bonus is paid at the same rate to all families considered eligible.
FTB-A is intended to help families with the costs of raising children and is paid to eligible carers who meet residency requirements and meet the income test.
Background The payment now known as Baby Bonus was introduced by the Howard Government in 2004.
The introduction of this new form of assistance for newborns was seen as an alternative to the introduction of government-funded paid parental leave which, check this out the payments it replaced, would provide the same level of assistance to all parents.
Maternity Payment was formally renamed the Baby Bonus in 2007.
The introduction of Paid Parental Leave PPL in January 2011 provided much more generous support to working parents with newborn or newly adopted children and around half of new parents are now receiving support through this scheme.
The budget measure was a recommendation of the Henry Tax Review.
Baby Bonus has been a regular target for savings The Labor Government has frequently targeted the Baby Bonus as a source of savings by changing or baby bonus salary cap indexation arrangements, introducing the income limit and reducing the rate of payment.
The 2012—13 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook proposed further cuts to the amount of Baby Bonus paid for second and subsequent children but the Bill to implement this measure is still before the Parliament.
The merging of the payment with FTB-A has benefits of reduced complexity and improved targeting.
The reduced rate of assistance compared to the Baby Bonus will, however, hurt those low-income and welfare-dependent families unable to access the PPL scheme.
Birth rates and early births The behavioural impact of changes to Baby Bonus has been an ongoing issue.
While it is unlikely that its abolition will have a significant impact on birth rates, there is a strong possibility that it will affect the timing of births, as occurred in 2004 when the payment began.
The timing and manner of the payment cut produces a financial incentive for a birth to occur earlier than it might here />A gradual reduction in the rate of payment, a staged transition to the replacement payment, or a shortened time between announcement and implementation may have reduced this incentive.
J Macklin Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Baby bonus salary cap for Disability Reform, media release, 14 May 2013, accessed 15 May 2013.
For more information see M Klapdor,Bills digest, 88, 2012—13, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2013, accessed 15 May 2013.
See M Klapdor, op.
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Having a Baby in Australia
The Baby Bonus Scheme is designed to help families defray the costs of raising a child. The Baby Bonus Cash Gift has been enhanced for eligible children born on or after 1 January 2015: Introduction of a new Baby Bonus Plus of $2,000.
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