finance

What 2017 means for your family benefit payments.

The New Year is prime time for taking a look at the household budget.

But as you plot out how to negotiate the year ahead, it’s worth noting there are a few new things you may need to factor in (or should that be factor out?) this time around.

They relate to your family benefits.

Extensive changes to these and several Centrelink payments have been announced since the belt-tightening 2016 federal budget that will directly impact millions of Australian households.

Here are some of the most crucial.

You won’t get a Schoolkids’ Bonus.

Previously, families received $430 for each child in primary school and $856 for each child in secondary school, which was automatically deposited in two instalments – one in January and one in July.

But there will be no such payments coming this month.

The scheme, designed to help families cover costs associated with their child’s education (eg. school fees, stationary, books and uniforms) was scrapped last year.

You may no longer receive a Family Tax Benefit supplement.

As of this financial year, only families with a combined income of less than $80,000 will be eligible for the FTB Part A supplement.

This will mean plenty of families will lose out on the lump-sum payment of up to $726 per child come tax time.

Changes have been made to the Family Tax Benefit supplement. Image: iStock.
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Parental Leave Pay now counts as income.

For parents of children born after October 1, 2016, Parental Leave Pay and Dad and Partner Pay now count toward your income according to Centrelink.

Depending on your circumstances, this could have an impact on your or your partner's income support payment, as well as your Family Tax Benefit.

The changes do not apply to children born prior to October 1.

And, so do fringe benefits.

Do you get fringe benefits from your employer? Maybe a car, a phone, help with petrol, or living costs?

Well previously Centrelink only counted 51 per cent of that value as income, but now they're counting the lot.

This is used when calculating your FTB, Child Care Benefit, Parental Leave Pay and so on, so you may see a reduction in some of these payments this year.

If that's the case, the Department of Human Services will let you know how this change affects you and what you need to do.

The Energy Supplement will no longer be a thing.

This little boost, offered to those who receive the FTB and income support, was introduced by the Gillard government to help families cope with rising energy costs. But come March 20, it's set to change.

Firstly, it won't be offered anyone who applies for the FTB after that date. Secondly, it will be cancelled for anyone who only became eligible for the FTB after September 20 last year.

For those who snuck in before then, you should continue to receive the supplement (up to $4.28 per fortnight for teenage children) as normal.

Nor will the Single Income Family Supplement

As of July 1, families with one income earner will no longer be able to apply for an annual payment of $300.

Existing recipients will continue to receive the payment, as long as they're still eligible as of 30 June.

For more information on these and other changes to family payments, please refer to the Department of Human Services website.