Two-thirds of Australians believe Prime Minister Tony Abbott's first Budget will leave them worse off over the coming year, a new survey has found.
The ME Bank nation survey of financial comfort levels for Australians found the Budget delivered the biggest blow to households' expectations on record.
Almost three months after it was unveiled the Government has yet to pass many of the Budget's key policies. An increase in the top marginal tax rate is the only major initiative to have sailed through the Parliament.
The ME survey of 1500 people found only 46 per cent of households are saving money at present, the lowest on record, with one-quarter saying they could not raise $3000 if they faced an emergency.
In its last survey, conducted late last year, just 12 per cent of those quizzed said they were worried about the "impact of legislative change". That now stands at 29 per cent.
While 30 per cent said they did not expect the Budget to have an impact on their financial situation, 67 per cent said it would and just 4 per cent indicated they would be better off.
The survey suggests the Government has failed to make the case to voters that the Budget’s tough medicine will deliver long term benefits.
While 41 per cent of those quizzed said Treasuer Joe Hockey's Budget would be good in the long term for the nation, 46 per cent said it would not.
The Government has also sought to deny the Budget is unfair, but 75 per cent said the fiscal blueprint was “too hard on vulnerable Australians”.
ME Bank consulting economist Jeff Oughton the Budget had fed into other problems facing ordinary Australians.
“Household income has been negatively impacted by relatively low average wage growth, moderate job gains, rising unemployment and corresponding falls in job security over the period, as well as an anticipated tightening in Government income assistance and tax benefits announced in the Federal Budget,” he said.
The survey found the Budget was not just a worry for immediate household finances. Expectations of a person’s standard of living in retirement fell sharply on the Government’s announcements to reduce the
rate at which the age pension increases and at what age a person can access the payment.
It is an issue being addressed by the Combined Pensioners’ and Superannuants Association which is now urging its members to complain directly to MPs about what it claims is an effective $100 a week cut in the aged pension over the coming decade.