School bonus could be last

FAMILIES eligible for the Schoolkids Bonus are receiving what could be their last payment this month.

According to the Human Services Department, payments began going into accounts on January 3 and all are expected to receive it by January 17, in time for the start of the school year on February 5.

The payment of $410 for each primary school pupil and $820 for each high school student was introduced by the former federal Labor government in 2013 to help cover the cost of school resources such as uniforms, shoes and books, at the start and middle of the year.

The Liberal government was hoping to axe the payment by the end of last year, but Parliament is yet to pass the legislation, so the first instalment is being given to families.

Payment of the second instalment will depend on whether the government passes legislation to end the bonus by mid-year.

If this occurs, City Mission Launceston community relations and fund-raising manager Brian Roach said the charity would more than likely see an increase in the need for help for school resources.

"It happened last year when some lost part of their Newstart Allowance benefit and we had an increase in the number of clients coming in, so I dare say it would have the same effect again," Mr Roach said.

"Because we know there are a lot of single parents and mums who are struggling now and they're trying to hold jobs and run a family, so to lose some income it's obviously going to have some effect."

The Tasmanian Council of Social Services chief executive Tony Reidy said the current format of the bonus was poorly designed and targeted.

He said any savings made by the federal government in axing the program should go instead to "urgently" improve the family payments of low to middle income families and specifically target older children.

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