Government tries to slash incomes of poorest – again

31 May 2017

The Australian Council of Social Service urges the Parliament to again stand up against the latest attempt by the Turnbull Government to cut the incomes of people who have the very least in the country.

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said, “The proposal to cut the Energy Supplement will directly hit people already living in poverty by slashing between $4 to $7 per week from people trying to survive on social security payments, including the $38-per-day Newstart Allowance.

“Pensioners, carers, people with disability, people who are unemployed, and single parents all stand to have their social security base income cut if the bill to slash the Energy Supplement is passed.

“Poverty and inequality would worsen and our unemployment payment, which is more than $100 per week below the poverty line, would be cut by $4.40 per week. Pensions would be cut by $7 per week.

“Cutting payments to people who are locked out of paid work will not help them find a job. Instead, it will make it tougher as they will struggle even more to put a roof over their head and put food on the table. For many people, $7 pays for a family meal, an outfit for kids or travel to look for work.

“Despite being an essential service, in less than a decade electricity prices have skyrocketed by more than 80%, disconnections have increased by 47%, the number of households on hardship measures has risen, and more households are rationing energy to the detriment of their health and well-being.

“Low-income households also continue to suffer housing stress with 800,000 low-income households paying more than 30% of their income in rent and more than 100,000 people are homeless.

“We commend the Nick Xenophon Team, Labor, the Greens, Senator Lambie and Senator Hinch, for previously rejecting this and other cruel measures. We urge them to stay firm.

“The community sector is united in its opposition to it. The government should focus on improving the adequacy of our unemployment payments rather than throwing their recipients into further destitution.

“Newstart is unbearably low. Business, unions and the community sector all agree that the level of the unemployment benefit needs to be increased. It is extraordinary that the Turnbull Government persists in trying find budget savings by cutting income support to this group even further.

“This Bill has been repeatedly rejected by Parliament. It is a ‘zombie’ that needs to be buried with the rest. It is cruel to keep this threat over the lives of people affected.

“We call on the Parliament to protect the incomes of up to two million people receiving income support and again reject this bill,” Dr Goldie said.

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