Welfare services spending scrutinised

Spending on welfare services (not including social security cash payments) in 1997-98 was $10.9 billion - almost 2% of Gross Domestic Product - 64% of this expenditure was by the government sector. Almost 25% of the expenditure came from clients' fees and 11.8% from non-government community services organisations.

Welfare Services Expenditure Bulletin No. 5, released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, shows that government welfare services spending in 1997-98 accounted for 3.6% of total government outlays, up from 2.8% in 1992-93. This compared with 23% of total government expenditure on social security benefits, 16% on health, and 13% on education in 1997-98.

Between 1992-93 and 1997-98, total spending per person on welfare services increased from $414 to $583 per person. In real terms, this constituted a 5.3% annual increase. Total public sector-funded welfare services cost an average of $375 per person in 1997-98 and the non-government sector contributed $208 per person, on average.

Family and child welfare services, and services for the aged (excluding nursing homes) each accounted for a third of Commonwealth, State and Territory government recurrent welfare services expenditure in 1997-98, with disability services accounting for 28% of expenditure.

The Bulletin author, Ms Maneerat Pinyopusarerk, said 'non-government community services organisations play a major role in the delivery of services. Services they delivered accounted for 59% of the total value of welfare services expenditure.'

'On the other hand, governments are the major funders. In 1997-98 they funded $7 billion worth of welfare services. The Commonwealth provided 48% of this, State and Territory governments provided 49%, and the rest was provided by local governments.'

Other findings in Welfare Services Expenditure Bulletin No. 5 include:

  • The national average expenditure per person by State and Territory governments in 1997-98 was $179, ranging from $110 in Queensland to $224 in the Northern Territory.
  • The average annual growth rate in government spending on welfare services, in constant prices, between 1992-93 and 1997-98 was 8.2%. For aged care services it was 14.4%; for family and child welfare services, 7.5%; for services for people with a disability, 4.7%, and 4.1% for other welfare services. Growth rates varied across states.

Note: Welfare services do not include cash payments under the various social security income support benefit schemes.


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