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APRA, consumer body secure funding for super reforms

The government has bumped up funding for the regulation of super funds, ahead of its incoming Your Future, Your Super reforms.

According to the federal budget papers, the government will be committing $11.2 million over four years (as well as $3.1 million per year ongoing), to support stronger consumer outcomes in superannuation. 

It has built on a prior allocation of $159.6 million over four years from the 2020 budget, to implement super reforms for boosted member outcomes.

The new package includes $9.6 million for APRA to supervise and enforce increased transparency and accountability measures as part of the Your Future, Your Super reforms, which, if passed, will take effect from July. 

The super regulation initiative will be partially funded through an increase in industry levies for regulated financial institutions.

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Treasury has allocated $679 million in agency resourcing to APRA for the coming financial year, an increase from the $638.4 million it expects to spend for 2020-21. 

The budget papers also report average staffing levels, which count full-time employees and adjust part-timers and casuals to show the full-time equivalent. Levels at the prudential regulator are expected to slightly increase in the 2021-22 year, with the estimated total shifting to 829 from 785 in the 2020-21 financial year.

Further, $1.6 million in the super reforms commitment has been designated to consumer advocate body Super Consumers Australia, after the CHOICE-aligned body expressed fears that its funding was set to run out. 

In last year’s budget, the government declared that it would be establishing a consumer advocate body, to produce independent research and inform future policy decisions.

Super Consumers Australia has welcomed the direct funding, with director Xavier O’Halloran commenting that it is a step towards the Productivity Commission’s recommendation for an independent body focused purely on member interests. 

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“A consumer advocate needs permanent funding to balance the powerful industry lobby. The main industry lobby groups alone (not including what the funds spend directly) use more than $50 million in Australians’ retirement savings to fund their lobbying work, employing approximately 110 staff,” Mr O’Halloran said. 

“In Super Consumers Australia’s short existence, we’ve been the voice of the consumer in a lopsided policy debate.

“Too often the superannuation policy debate is overrun with self-interest. Superannuation belongs to consumers. It is their money.”

Martin Fahy, chief executive of the Association of Super Funds of Australia (ASFA), noted the funding boost for APRA and Super Consumers Australia, commenting that it should come with increased accountability.

While APRA has seen a boost in funding, ASIC has seen a diminution.

ASIC is expected to see its staffing levels drop by nearly half, falling from an estimated 2,096 staff to 1,878 average staffing levels in 2021-22.

Details of the reduction have not yet been disclosed.

[Related: Senator Bragg backs super for home ownership]

APRA, consumer body secure funding for super reforms
APRA, consumer body secure funding for super reforms
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