Insights into Government Finance Statistics, March 2024

March quarter 2024 Government Finance Statistics data - Observations and analysis of Social benefits expenses


Government Finance Statistics (GFS) are available as current prices, original series. Unless indicated, all data here are estimates for the total general government sector which includes the Commonwealth, state, territory and local general governments, and public universities.

Social benefits

Social benefits to households in goods and services (social benefits) are non-cash assistance provided by governments to individuals and households. Social benefits are a non-employee expense for the general government sector.

Social benefits include programs such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), Child Care Subsidy (CCS), Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS), Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), Aged Care Subsidy and state transport and electricity concessions.

Annual GFS show that social benefits have increased 137.1% over the past decade. This reflects growth in demand for aged and home care, disability, health and child care services; and in more recent years, increased government assistance in response to COVID 19, natural disasters and cost of living pressures.

March quarter 2024

Australia’s social benefits increased 7.8% ($3.3 billion) in the March quarter 2024, and 16.0% ($6.3 billion) through the year (a). From March quarter 2020 (b) to March quarter 2024, total social benefits rose 58.7% ($16.9 billion). Through this period social benefits as a percentage of total general government expenses increased from 16.3% in March quarter 2020 to 19.7% in March quarter 2024.

Commonwealth social benefits payments is the largest component of social benefits, and accounts for around 90% of all social benefits.

  1. Through the year growth is the percentage change compared to the same time of the previous year.
  2. March 2020 has been chosen as the comparison point because non-government school payments were introduced into quarterly GFS from September 2019 which will affect comparison of social benefits before and after that quarter.

Commonwealth social benefits

Through the year, Commonwealth social benefits increased 15.2% (up $5.5 billion) to March quarter 2024. Growth in Commonwealth social benefits was driven by disability, aged care, child care and family benefits which includes policies such as NDIS, Child Care Subsidy and the Aged Care Subsidy.

Disability benefits increased 19.5% ($1.7 billion) through the year to March quarter 2024, and was the largest contributor to growth in Commonwealth social benefits reflecting an increase in individual support costs and the number of people with disability participating in the NDIS (a).

Aged care benefits increased 29.1% ($1.6 billion) through the year to March quarter 2024. The growth reflects the Fair Work Commission’s ruling (November, 2022) on the Aged Care Work Value of a 15% increase to award wages for nurses and aged care workers.

Health benefits rose 9.0% ($1.0 billion) through the year to March quarter 2024. This was driven in part by increases in the indexation rate for the Medicare Benefits Schedule, bulk billing incentive payments (November 2023) and additions to Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme listings.

Child care and family benefits rose 28.0% ($0.7 billion) through the year to March quarter 2024. This was driven by the increased payments to families following the introduction of higher Child Care Subsidy rates and additional support for second and subsequent children.

Other Commonwealth benefits increased 7.1% ($0.6 billion) through the year to March quarter 2024 and is likely to reflect growth in non-government school payments and employment services.

  1. Source: 2022-23 Annual Report | National Disability Insurance Agency
  1. Other benefits include, for example: non-government school payments and employment services.
  1. Other benefits include, for example: non-government school payments and employment services.

State social benefits

Through the year, state social benefits increased 25.8% (up $0.8 billion) in March quarter 2024. Higher levels of social benefits paid by states reflects the introduction of Commonwealth Energy Bill Relief (a) which required co-funding with states and territories (from the 1st of July 2023). This was in addition to existing state and territory energy concessions and state energy rebates in Queensland (b) and Western Australia (c).

  1. Source: Commonwealth Energy Bill Relief | Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water
  2. Source: Cost of Living Rebate for Households | Queensland Government
  3. Source: Household Electricity Credit | Government of Western Australia

Recent announcements for energy bill relief are expected to contribute further strength to state social benefits in the 2024-25 financial year. These are:

Back to top of the page