Indeed, annual per person family payments (Family Tax Benefit, childcare, Baby Bonus/parental leave) are at $980 a year for 2009-10 only $10 higher than forecast for this financial year in 2007. FTB is slightly down (the means test on FTB B?) but childcare is up by 75%.
Rather optimistically, family payments are forecast to have slightly decreased by the end of this decade to $960 a year. I find this difficult to believe. For a start, there are already active plans to increase FTB handouts via overcompensation for the ETS. While the Coalition may be able to stall this for a while, their overall weak political position means that Senate obstruction has a use-by date.
And though parental leave/Baby Bonus increases are built into the estimates of future spending, these are likely to be very much on the conservative side. The long-term campaign for the state to partly take over the family’s traditional child support role is far from over, and we can expect to see more of the costs of rearing children shifted to the childless.
Like its predecessors, this intergenerational report promotes the need for spending control but is remarkably quiet on family payments, even though FTB is the third most expensive social policy item in the budget after the aged pension and schools. This is odd, because of all the social policy payments this is the most obviously discretionary. Much of it goes to families that are not poor and have no special needs.