Don’t Forget Sole Parent Families in Pension Increase

26 March 2009

ACOSS is urging the Government to reassure sole parents on Parenting Payment that they will be included in the promised pension increase in the May Budget. The Minister for Community Services Jenny Macklin has clarified in reports today that other pensioners – age, disability support, carers and veterans – will receive an increase in payments.

“It is only fair that the pension increase applies to all pensioners. Sole parent families should not be left out,” said Clare Martin, CEO, Australian Council of Social Service. “ACOSS is asking the minister responsible, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Julia Gillard, to guarantee the pension increase will apply to the 350,000 sole parents on Parenting Payment.”

“Sole parent families are the poorest families in Australia and children in these families regularly do without the things that other kids take for granted. We know that over half of sole parent families were unable to pay a utility bill in the last year and a quarter can’t afford new school uniforms and books.”

“A sole parent pensioner with two children receives $546 per week*. ACOSS is calling for the single pension rate to be lifted to two-thirds of the couple rate. This would be about $30 per week.”

“Sole parent families have been paid at pension rates since the Whitlam Government introduced a pension for them in 1974. If the link between sole parents and other pensions was broken this would be a historic and retrograde change.”

“Another group facing great hardship are people who have lost their jobs on the Newstart Allowance and who struggle to get by on just $226 per week. If the single pension rate is increased by $30, then the difference between the two payments would be a staggering $90.”

“A $30 per week increase for Newstart and Youth Allowance recipients is critical to make the system fairer and start to raise the growing numbers of jobless people above the poverty line.”

*This figure includes Family Tax Benefit and Commonwealth Rent Assistance. Capital city rents would typically account for half of the payment.
 
Media Contact: Clare Cameron – 0419 626 155