The New Year brings a whole lot of new changes for Centrelink’s family benefits. See how they affect you.

The clock struck midnight, you raised a bubbling glass of champagne (or more likely, groggily chugged a sippy cup of grape juice thinking it was the mum-friendly version), gave your honey a quick kiss and felt the freshness of the new year wash over you. 2017 is going to be your year, and everything will be different.

Um, kind of. At least, if you use some of Centrelink’s family benefits.

So, you thought the New Year would bring all kinds of good things. Maybe you’ll finally fit into that pre-baby bikini that’s been hidden in the back of closet for the past five years. Maybe you’ll finally get that much-deserved promotion at work, or better yet, start your own business! Or maybe you’ll actually get an hour or so free every once in a while to take that Pilates class you’ve been promising yourself you’d do. But, now you’re not so sure about this being your year.

Okay, so the bikini, promotion and Pilates class may all still happen. The same can’t be said for your family’s benefits. What changed as of January 1? Well, kind of a lot. So, here it goes:

Your Parental Leave Pay will change.

Actually, the pay itself won’t change (lucky you). But, it will now be included in your income assessment for Centrelink purposes. If you had a baby after 1 October 2016, any Parental Leave Pay or Dad and Partner Pay counts as part of your income.

Why is this important?

Aside from it being a change, your income is used to calculate Family Tax benefits and other payments. Adding the leave pay into your annual income may mean that you get less, or nothing at all, when it comes to these benefits. Along with Parental Leave Pay, any fringe benefits you or your partner get from work are now counted as income. So, that company car, mobile phone or anything else that the company pays for all go towards your annual income total.

Your Family Tax Benefits will change.

Speaking of these benefits, Parental Leave Pay isn’t the only think affecting them now. Low, single income families will likely still receive their FTB Part B benefits. But, families who make over $80,000 a year will now lose their FTB Part A supplement. This means that you could lose up to $726 per child each year.

Your Energy supplement will change.

Well, maybe. For some – those who are new applicants for the FTB as of March 2017. New Centrelink applicants can look forward to receiving a big $0. In other words, no benefit for them. If you already get some form of Centrelink payment (such as a Parenting Payment), you may lose $12 per fortnight. And, it’s also possible to lose more.

Your School Kids bonus will disappear.

Even though the fight to remove this bonus in 2014 wasn’t a success, it is now. What does that mean for you? If you make less than $100,000 annually (that is, per family) you won’t receive the School Kids Bonus lump sum payments anymore because they scrapped this now altogether! 🙁

Your Child Care costs may go up.

Even though Centrelink’s rebate will still continue to pay 50 percent of your costs, the overall price of childcare is projected to rise. This may mean that after using the rebate (it’s currently capped at $7,500), you owe a whole lot more.

Your Dental Costs will increase.

So, the dentists aren’t charging any more than before (at least not that we know of). But, if you receive the FTB Part A, your child’s dental services will now be capped at $700 for two years. The previous allowance was $1,000 per every child for a two year period.

No New Families for the Nanny Pilot Program

Along with these changes, the nanny pilot program will stop accepting new families. Previously, this program provided subsidies to families who hire and pay their own private nannies. Due to lack of use, the program will no longer accept applications.

Whew! That’s a lot of changes. So, Happy New Year! Kind of.

Author

Erica Loop is a mum, parenting writer and educator with an MS in child development. Along with writing for websites such as PBS Parents, care.com, Scary Mommy, mom.me, Modern Mom, education.com and others, she also is the creator of a kids' activities and art blog.

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