Budget Targeted for Job Creation but Bypasses Most Disadvantaged

12 May 2009

The Australian Council of Social Service welcomes announcements in the Budget to increase payments for single pensioners and the better targeting of expenditure including tightening of super tax breaks, pension taper rates and the private health insurance rebate.

However the Budget has largely bypassed two of the poorest groups in the country and who will be most affected by the recession – sole parent families and unemployed people.

Clare Martin, CEO, Australian Council of Social Service:

“This Budget will help the economy recover through investment in infrastructure projects such as public transport, health projects and green collar job creation. Better targeting of Government programs and tax breaks such as those for superannuation, private health insurance and pensions will help the bottom line recover.”

“These changes are fair and necessary to make room for spending on essential services and payments for those affected by the downturn.”

“We applaud the Government’s move to increase the single age, carer, and disability support pensions by $32.50. This is an historic rise, the biggest increase since the Whitlam Government, and will assist single pensioners achieve a better standard of living.

We are concerned that raising the pension age to 67 will disadvantage lower income mature age people with limited job prospects, who will have to remain on lower incomesupport payments for longer.

The pension increase is well-targeted for single pensioners but misses what should be its main focus – those most affected by the downturn – sole parent pensioners and unemployed people.”

“I can not understand why the poorest people in the country, unemployed people and sole pensioners, have missed out on increases to their base payment rates. An unemployed person on the single Newstart rate of has to get by on $227 per week. Who can live on $32 a day?

Raising children as a sole parent is hard enough. But $550 per week is not enough to raise two school age children alone. Research shows 57% of families on parenting payment could not pay a utility bill in the last 12 months.”

“Announced in the Budget was that at the same time that pensions will be indexed to a higher % of average earnings, Family Tax Benefit for low income families will no longer be linked to average earnings at all – only CPI. Family assistance will over time fall behind improvements in community living standards.

“The $20 per week training allowance announced today will assist some jobless people to get by while they are studying, but more is needed to support people in their search for work. The Budget made no provision for any major new employment programs for long term unemployed people and we look forward to working with Government on programs to assist this particularly disadvantaged group move back into the workforce.”
Media Contact: Clare Cameron, ACOSS – 0419 626 155