Budget falls short on investment to break the cycle of disadvantage

The NSW Budget has attempted to manage the crisis facing vulnerable people and families but lacks the vision to break the generational cycle, warns Greens MP and spokesperson on Family and Community Services and Housing, Jan Barham.

“If this Government trumpeted investments in support for disadvantaged people and families like it does for roads, we could secure long-term reductions in risk, harm and homelessness. Investing in prevention and early support services will deliver long-term savings and reduce the need for crisis services in the years and decades to come,” Ms Barham said.

“The Budget includes some new funding to address the crisis in child protection and homelessness services, but the Government’s own projections show they aren’t expecting reductions in the number of people who need those services.

“The Government has again failed to display the long-term vision required to deliver what the evidence shows is required – a major investment in prevention and early supports for vulnerable families, combined with secure and affordable housing to address the massive social housing waiting list.”

Ms Barham noted that despite announcements of additional support for Community Services caseworkers, the number of risk reports and number of children in out-of-home care are expected to remain high in 2014-15.

“Improvements to casework, record-keeping and data systems are much needed, but they help to manage the crisis and don’t ensure that the next generation won’t be exposed to risk of harm. The budget for targeted earlier interventions has only risen by a few per cent, and the Government doesn’t expect these services to be accessed by many more people in the coming year than they have currently served.

Ms Barham also noted the relatively small capital investment in generating new social housing.

“Social housing accounts for around 2.5% of the Government’s proposed capital expenditure, while tens of thousands wait for social housing. If we are serious about preventing homelessness and helping vulnerable people, who are already being hit hard by the Federal Budget, we need to make delivering shelter to people in need a priority for capital investment,” Ms Barham concluded.

For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891

Background: NSW Budget 2014/15 Family and Community Services Cluster

NB: Real expenditure changes based on 2.25% 2014/15 CPI as forecast in the NSW Budget

Targeted Earlier Intervention

Changes in service measures 2013/14 Revised vs 2014/15 Forecast

  • Community Builders – unchanged at 224,000
  • Staying Home, Leaving Violence – increase from 4,660 to 4,700
  • Child, Youth & Families services – unchanged at 54,000
  • Calls to DV line – unchanged at 22,000
  • Families in Brighter Futures – increase from 2,700 to 2,800

Budget for Targeted Earlier Intervention:
2013/14 (revised): $246.2 million
2014/15 (budget): $257.7 million (real increase of 2.4%)

Statutory Child Protection

Changes in service measures 2013/14 Revised vs 2014/15 Forecast

  • Child & young person concern reports – increase from 267,800 to 284,300
  • Children & young people involved in a concern report – increase from 111,800 to 116,400
  • Children & young people reported at ROSH – increase from 70,400 to 75,000
  • Children & young people with ROSH reports receiving face-to-face assessment – increase from 36.9% to 37.5%

Budget for Statutory Child Protection:
2013/14 (revised): $444.0 million
2014/15 (budget): $451.1 million (real decrease of 0.6%)

Out-of-Home Care

Changes in service measures 2013/14 Revised vs 2014/15 Forecast

  • Children in OOHC – unchanged at 18,900 (NB: revised figure up from forecast 18,400)
  • NGO placements – increase from 52% to 61%
  • Average cost, all children – increase from $43,000 to $45,000

Budget for Out-of-Home Care:
2013/14 (revised): $817.3 million
2014/15 (budget): $852.0 million (real increase of 2.0%)

Social Housing Assistance and Tenancy Support

Changes in service measures 2013/14 Revised vs 2014/15 Forecast

  • Households assisted in social housing – unchanged at 140,500
  • Households assisted to rent privately – increase from 19,000 to 20,000

Budget for Social Housing Assistance and Tenancy Support:
2013/14 (revised): $810.0 million
2014/15 (budget): $811.1 million (real decrease of 2.1%)

Homelessness Services

Changes in service measures 2013/14 Revised vs 2014/15 Forecast

  • Households assisted with temporary accommodation – unchanged at 14,300
  • People receiving assistance from a Specialist Homelessness Service – increase from 52,000 to 54,000

Budget for Homelessness Services:
2013/14 (revised): $250.0 million
2014/15 (budget): $265.4 million (real increase of 3.8%)