| 06.05,12. 11:13 PM |
Gillard's $820 gift for every schoolchild
May 06, 2012
PARENTS will receive up to $820 for every child they have at school - paid directly into their bank account next month - as part of a federal government overhaul to combat rising education costs.
In another sign the government is preparing a Robin Hood Budget that targets the rich but helps battling families, Julia Gillard will announce the means-tested payment today.
The Sunday Telegraph can reveal the payment will replace the existing education tax refund, which forced parents to keep receipts to prove they had spent thousands of dollars on computers and school uniforms before claiming a rebate for education expenses.
About a million families eligible for the existing scheme -- to be axed in Tuesday's Budget -- were not claiming their full entitlements under the current scheme. The Sunday Telegraph previously revealed about 600,000 families were not claiming at all, missing out on $300 million.
The scheme will be replaced by the new SchoolKids Bonus, worth $820 for every teenager at school and $410 for every primary school child, which will be paid to parents from next year in two instalments - at the beginning of the school year and in July.
But in a one-off bonus, the government will pay refunds for the last financial year into parents' bank accounts in June as a lump sum as it fights to rebuild its stocks from rock bottom approval ratings.
"In just a few weeks, a million families with kids at school will get extra money in their bank accounts to help with school costs," Ms Gillard said. "In this Budget, we will deliver a surplus, but today's announcement is about helping families out as well. We want to make sure families get the help they need to make ends meet."
About a million families, who qualify for Family Tax Benefit A, will be eligible for the payments, only offered to families earning less than $101,000 if they have one primary-school-aged child, rising to $123,000 for families with two teenagers.
These families have previously been promised lump-sum, cash bonuses of $110 per child in carbon tax compensation, with the first payments to commence on May 16.
The new SchoolKids Bonus will be worth $1640 for parents of two teenage children in high school who qualify, with the one-off lump sum to be lodged in bank accounts next month.
Legislation will be rushed into parliament this week to deliver the cash to families within weeks unless the Coalition blocks the move.
The new bonus will increase the cost of the existing scheme by $400 million, taking the total cost to $1.2 billion.
While parents will welcome the cash, the $830 million handout in June will help the Prime Minister deliver a promised Budget surplus in 2013 by bringing forward the spending into the current financial year. The Gillard government has adopted a similar approach to carbon tax compensation, paying lump-sum, cash bonuses in May and June to shift the impact of the carbon tax compensation from the Budget bottom line in 2013.
The move comes as the PM faces a backlash over the carbon tax, with a senior minister saying it was "killing us".
Further compensation measures are not expected in the Budget but division has erupted in government ranks over the sales pitch of the unpopular tax.
The PM said the new payment would also help struggling retailers.
"This payment will be good for our economy as well because it will help . . . the retail sector," Ms Gillard said.
"I believe in managing the economy on behalf of working people. That's why we work to keep the economy strong, making sure Australian families feel the benefit".