This year’s Federal Budget has been much anticipated. The charity sector has been overwhelmed by the demand for on-the-ground services as the cost of living and housing crisis is deeply felt by families and communities who are most in need.

We’ve put our budget analysis hat on and listed our five key takeaways from the 2024 Federal Budget.

Social enterprises are big winners this year

After tireless advocacy from the social enterprise sector, a major step has been taken in integrating social enterprises in the national employment system with the Government’s new investment of $21.9 million in ‘WorkFoundations’. The initiative will fund social enterprises and business to host paid employment placements of up to 6 months to build job readiness for people with complex barriers to employment.

Social housing is a key area of focus

The Budget contains a number of measures to increase social housing in Australia as a way to address the critical shortage for those most in need.

This includes providing additional concessional financing of up to $1.9 billion, which will be accessible to community housing providers and charities to deliver new social and affordable housing under the HAFF and National Housing Accord and providing charities with greater access to capital funding for social housing with a $3 billion loan to Housing Australia.

A boost to remote communities

Continuing the focus on creating employment pathways, the Government will invest $707 million to deliver a new Remote Jobs and Economic Development Program (RJED) led by First Nations communities.

Additionally, the Budget includes an investment of $30.2 million for Remote Training Hubs in up to seven remote locations in Central Australia and $24 million to grow the Junior Rangers program to 50 sites, creating more opportunities for First Nations students.

A mixed bag for those struggling to make ends meet

There is a general sense of disappointment in the sector that the Government missed an important opportunity to increase the JobSeeker allowance and Youth allowance for everyone, given the significant cost of living crisis.  A small increase in the Commonwealth Rent Allowance will provide some limited relief in meeting the high costs of renting and a $300 energy rebate will assist with household energy bills.

Mission Australia’s executive, Ben Carblis, said that while cost-of-living measures announced in the Budget, including energy bill relief and a modest 10% increase to rental subsidies, were a welcome acknowledgement that people are facing tough times, they won’t fix poverty or poverty-induced homelessness.

“Those who rely on the government’s inadequate income support payments are living below the poverty line, when really, income support should be a safety net that stops people living in poverty.

“The Government is essentially condemning people and families to an ongoing struggle to make ends meet and keep a roof over their head.”

Source: Budget brings some relief for struggling Australians, Greg Thom, journalist, Institute of Community Directors Australia

Gender equality and ending violence against women

In light of the calls for greater action to end the epidemic of violence against women in Australia, the Government is investing $925.2 million over five years for women leaving violent intimate relationships, $44.1 million in 2024-25 in the legal assistance sector and directing an existing $1 billion of funding from the National Housing Infrastructure Facility to crisis and transitional accommodation for women and children fleeing domestic violence and youth.

Watch this space – Productivity Commission Report on Philanthropic Giving

Once the dust settles on the Federal Budget, keep an eye on the Government’s response to the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry into growing philanthropic giving. You can read the draft report, Future Foundations for Giving, which examines structural reforms that will increase access to philanthropic funds for more charities. The final report was delivered to the Government on the 10th of May and Parliament is required to table the report within 25 days of receiving it. Watch this space!

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