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Funding things that matter

UnitingCare Australia's National Director, Lin Hatfield Dodds said today that long run social priorities can be delivered in this year's Federal Budget by redistributing existing revenue and scaling back wasteful tax concessions.

"The starting point for the 2013 Budget is that the economy is performing well, but is vulnerable to weak international conditions.

"While this context does not give the Government a lot of room to move, it highlights the importance of not wasting money on tax concessions that have little merit," Ms Hatfield Dodds said.

"Budgets are all about choices and priorities.

"There are opportunities to fund important programs by scaling back tax concessions that do nothing for everyday Australians.

"New spending on disability insurance and education reforms will help give every Australian a fair go.

"We need to make sure that funding and taxation decisions also support a fair go.

"Past decisions have given too much money to the wealthiest Australians, who do not need this support.

"Over half of the tax support for superannuation goes to the wealthiest five percent of superannuants.

"This is a waste of precious tax dollars.

"Middle class welfare payments such as the baby bonus, the private health insurance rebate and family tax benefits to middle income families could be redistributed to ensure people who are genuinely disadvantaged can get the support they need.

"Choices made in recent years about personal income tax and out of date business tax settings mean we don't have that money to spend on decent welfare payments or adequate funding for essential social services.

"We should also look at closing some business loopholes that would both save money and improve outcomes. Subsidies to fossil fuel use cost $10 billion a year, and should be removed or scaled back.

"If we went back to 2007 personal income tax rates, adjusted for inflation, this year we would have collected an extra $25 billion in tax.

"Most of this money would come from the top 10 percent of households, who received more in tax cuts and enjoyed bigger gains than the bottom 80 per cent where most of us live.

"In this year's budget, UnitingCare Australia will be looking for measures that address the inequity of current superannuation tax concessions and we'll be looking at tax arrangements on family trusts, capital gains tax and negative gearing.

"And we will be looking for changes to welfare payments so people have enough money to live on, while they parent, study, or skill up and search for work.

"Central to the current inequity in welfare payment levels is the absence of funding for a system that adequately sets and indexes income support payments," Ms Hatfield Dodds said.

Lin Hatfield Dodds will be available in the lead up to the Federal Budget to comment on these and other important social and fiscal matters that impact on the well-being of Australian society.