There are fears further social services will be cut in the May federal Budget.
There are fears further social services will be cut in the May federal Budget.

Call for clarity as Budget uncertainty dogs social services

UNCERTAINTY dogging the future of social services in Australia has sparked a call for the Abbott Government to reveal its plans for the May budget.

The call, from the Australian Council of Social Service, comes as the group remains unsure of whether the government will cut, quarantine or change social service funding in the coming budget.

ACOSS chief executive Dr Cassandra Goldie said funding for homelessness, training and employment, and people in financial crises, was only secure until June 30 this year.

She said government departments were "unable to confirm the future of these services", and a national agreement on homelessness and the Youth Connections programs were among those affected.

"Other vital community programs have already been cut, or are clearly in the firing line, including funding for the Alcohol and other Drugs Council of Australia (ADCA), Aboriginal Legal Services, legal aid and community legal services, and community programs for people from diverse cultural backgrounds," Dr Goldie said.

"The ongoing uncertainty is having a serious impact across the country, with service management unable to plan, and staff increasingly anxious.

"Valued workers are under pressure to start looking for new jobs, with many not knowing if they will be employed in just a few months."

While the government has not revealed any specific plans to cut or increase funding for social service programs, all government spending has been under review by the Commission of Audit.

The audit is understood to have reported on the scope of government services to Treasurer Joe Hockey more than two weeks ago, but a second "phase two" report was not due until the end of this month.

ACOSS recommended then audit look at savings through changes to tax breaks, loopholes, negative gearing and capital gains, rather than through cuts to services.

"The government must put an end to all this uncertainty and urgently signal its ongoing commitment to funding," she said.