Federal budget: what does it mean for the Hunter?

Cec Shevels, the head of Hunter-based welfare organisation Samaritans Foundation, described the budget as "horrendous" and "mean-spirited".

Cec Shevels, the head of Hunter-based welfare organisation Samaritans Foundation, described the budget as "horrendous" and "mean-spirited".

HOMELESSNESS and crime will increase across the Hunter if all the changes in the recent budget are implemented, according to Cec Shevels, the head of Hunter-based welfare organisation Samaritans Foundation.

He described the budget as "horrendous" and "mean-spirited", and said it would result in an even bigger gap between rich and poor.

Mr Shevels predicts the Samaritans would struggle with an influx of people, and may have to turn people away for the first time in 30 years.

"When BHP closed, when the earthquake hit, when the floods came - we had a surge of people. A lot of people lost their rental homes. But there is a big difference between those circumstances and now," Mr Shevels said.

"These changes are being made by our government. The decisions are being made here.

"The poor people are doing all the heavy lifting and it's hitting the most vulnerable."

He predicts homelessness will rise, creating a domino effect that will lead to increases in crime, stretching police resources and with more people in prison.

Changes in the budget include lifting the age of eligibility for Newstart from 22 to 25, meaning $96 less a fortnight for those who would have moved from Youth Allowance.

Petrol prices will also go up, as will the age for receiving the pension.

People will have to pay $7 to see a doctor and changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme mean the cost of many medicines will also go up by $5.

Mr Shevels said he was particularly concerned about changes to welfare payments, because unemployed people under 30 would have to wait six months before they were eligible for Newstart benefits.

"I just cannot understand the logic behind it," he said.

FEDERAL BUDGET: WHAT'S IN IT FOR THE HUNTER?

THE GOOD

■ Duplication of Tourle Street bridge, costing $40 million.

■ Hunter to benefit from its share of $200 million Black Spot Program and $350 million in Roads to Recovery funding.

■ The University of Newcastle and the Hunter Medical Research Institute to benefit from a $20 billion medical research future fund.

■ Mobile phone blackspots to be improved across the Hunter with $100 million over four years.

■ Williamtown RAAF likely to benefit from Australian Defence Force gap year program.

■ Hunter defence veterans to benefit from extra $1.4 billion over four years in pension and death benefit improvements.

■ University of Newcastle may benefit from plan to lift doctor training places from 1200 to 1500.

THE BAD

■ Hunter artists to be affected by $87 million cut from arts budget.

■ University students to be hit with new student loan repayment rules.

■ University of Newcastle likely to be affected by cuts to research and education funding.

■ Medicare Locals to be replaced with Primary Health networks from July 2015.

■ Hunter industry employing apprentices expected to be affected by abolition of 10 training programs.

■ Hunter to be affected by 16,500 jobs to be cut from public service nationwide.

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