It is fair to say there has not been a budget in memory that has been more anticipated than the 2022-2023 version. The overall strategy could be described as a band-aid solution, a bottom up response to meet some short-term pain points and let’s not forget the upcoming election.  At Gallagher, we are calling this year’s budget The ‘heaven help me with my household’ budget.  What is absolutely clear, is that Australian households are struggling with the everyday cost of living.

There has been recent sensitivity shown by the population to cost of living increases. This highlights how low wage growth and a lack of financial fitness (regardless of salary levels) leads to lower confidence of staff.  That can, and will create issues for the employer. Government and household budgets have many similarities and they share the challenge of making decisions on what stays and what goes. Here are the main highlights from last night:

Tax

  • Federal tax on fuel will be halved, saving 22.1c per litre
  • Cost of living tax offset of $420 (for LMITO)
  • Increased access to Employee Share Schemes (making it simple)
  • COVID testing to attend your workplace is now tax deductible and exempt from FBT

Social Security

  • Flexibility to the parental leave schemes to be shared between parents (up to 20 weeks)
  • Additional funding to help implement aged care recommendations from the Royal Commission
  • Additional funding for Aged Care
  • Cost of living payment of $250
  • Extension of the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment
  • Support for Veterans’ Wellbeing

Women

  • Funding to promote Women in Leadership
  • Women’s safety – funding towards initiatives to reduce family/domestic/sexual violence against women/children
  • Women’s economic security package

Other announcements

  • Home Guarantee Scheme doubles to 50,000 places per year
  • Skills, training and technology boost for small business

Last but not least, Superannuation.  We are very happy that the budget has not interfered with superannuation as it normally does.  What is important to note is that we cannot forget the announcements made in the 2021 budget that will take effect later this year:

  • Removal of $450 per month threshold for Super Guarantee
  • Downsizer contribution available from age 60
  • FHSSS accessible amount increasing to $50,000
  • No work test through to age 67 for non-concessional contributions.

The overarching view is that there are structural issues in the budget that will need to be addressed at least during the next decade to better target spending and prevent cost blowouts (programmes like the NDIS and defence are major pain points for government as costs are accelerating).  Much like this year’s budget, every day households do not factor in the longer term or bigger project household initiatives and this is where we see a gap.  We did not see any initiatives to address inflation, wage growth, the increase to interest rates and what this means for the average mortgage repayments (ABS November 2021, average mortgage was $595,568).  We know that outside of one’s family and your chosen bank, your employer is the one who knows most about you and much like insurance, Australians will turn to their employers for support.

Employer impact

There is only so much Australian employers can do to support, retain and engage talent.  The demand on earnings has never been more of a focus point for employees, but as we know, the solution of increasing salaries is not sustainable for any business.  What can employers do to combat this phenomenon, assist employees with the ever increasing cost of living, address financial stress in the workplace and continue to expect productivity?

For employers that are ready to meet this challenge, Gallagher’s Better Wealth programme (launched in 2021) has given employers an alternative option for consideration when faced with the demands for salary increases. Better Wealth provides employees a platform to manage their ‘household budget’ while factoring in the family’s longer-term goals. In the war for talent, Better Wealth is a valuable benefit that employers can offer to solve problems for both business and its workforce. Is it time your organisation got on the front foot?

54% of employees value financial wellbeing support from their employer, but…only 34% of employers offer it!

Gallagher Workplace Wellbeing Index Research 2022

Finally as leaders of our organisations, planning is critical to future prospects.  We budget for the year and ensure that our budget contributes to the longer term organisational goals. The 2022 budget has not provided a plan to review the structural challenges that lie ahead. The May Election is as far as most in politics are looking to and we would expect the same type of approach from the opposition on Thursday night. This budget has not addressed how these short-term fixes are contributing to the longer-term economic recovery for all Australians.

To find out more about Better Wealth click here.  To understand how Better Wealth could be deployed in your organisation, contact your Gallagher consultant.