Welfare services spending $13.7 billion

Spending on welfare services in Australia in 2000-01 was $13.7 billion, or 2.0% of Gross Domestic Product. This averaged $710 per person, according to Welfare Expenditure Australia 2000-01, a report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Real growth in expenditure between 1998-99 and 2000-01 averaged 5.9% per year.

The spending analysed in the latest AIHW report was on services provided mostly to older people, people with disabilities, and families and children. It does not include an estimated $48 billion in social security payments, such as age pensions, disability support pensions and Newstart allowances.

$9.6 billion or about 70% of the funding for welfare services was provided by the government sector, with the remaining $4.1 billion being contributed by non-government funding sources.

For the Commonwealth Government, which spent $4.3 billion in 2000-01 (an average of $222 per person), the greatest areas of spending were on services for older people (38%), and family and child welfare services (33%).

Report co-author Tony Hynes said that spending by State and Territory governments varied considerably.

'Nationally, State and Territory governments funding in 2000-01 averaged $258 per person. Three States-Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia-had per capita spending rates that were more than 10% above the national average and South Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland were all well below that average.

'This report also highlights the vital role that non-government community services organisations continue to play in providing welfare services in Australia,' Mr Hynes said.

'In 2000-01 over half the funding-$6.9 billion-was for services provided by those organisations.'

Another form of expenditure examined for the first time was concessions on council rates, electricity, water, sewerage and public transport. These were valued at $821 million in 2000-01, with about 70% ($651 million) going to older Australians and people with disabilities.

The report also estimated that welfare-related tax expenditures directed at welfare service provider organisations cost governments about $836 million in 2000-01.


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