Budget 2021 MESL Impact Briefing

Issued: October 2020

Budget 2021



This the VPSJ's 10th annual MESL impact briefing, in response to Budget 2021.

This briefing analyses the impact of the Budget in the context of the Minimum Essential Standards research, benchmarking the adequacy of social welfare rates and the minimum wage in 2021 for a set of illustrative household types - assessing the degree to which Budget 2021 will enable a socially acceptable minimum standard of living in the coming year.

The VPSJ recognises that the impact of the COVID-19 on individuals, families, society, jobs and the economy present many unique challenges, and the unprecedented context informing the decisions in Budget 2021.

Budget 2021 has put in a place a number of evidence-based targeted measures and proposals. These are welcome and will support many households at risk of income inadequacy.

However, the VPSJ regrets the failure to increase primary working-age rates. 2021 will be the third year with primary rates at their current level, given the inadequacy of the current rates and uncertainty around future trends in minimum living costs, it is regrettable that broader measures were not taken towards ensuring a minimum adequate income for all.

Without measures to progressively realise an adequate primary social welfare rate for working-age adults, the targeted adjustments to supports for children cannot properly address household income inadequacy or child poverty.

This shines a light on the need to benchmark social welfare rates against the cost of an MESL and ensure that minimum income supports enable a life with dignity for all age-groups.