Mind the Gap: Report on Growing Inequity in Income Support

12 May 2009

Following the release of the Federal Budget, community sector organisations are increasingly concerned that gaps between income support payments are widening and there is now a four-class system of income support. There is a $147 per week gap between the top and bottom income support payments.
 
New research released today by ACOSS shows a stark contrast in the different levels of income support payments and an increasingly complex system. Click here to read the report.
 
“ACOSS welcomes the Government’s Budget announcement to increase assistance to struggling single pensioners by increasing their payments by $33, the biggest rise since the Whitlam Government increased pensions by 10% in 1972,” said Clare Martin, CEO, ACOSS.
 
“However, the pension increase in last night’s Budget excluded sole parent pensioners who remain on the old payment levels. Sitting well below sole parent pensioners are people on the unemployment allowance and even lower, students 18-64 years old on Youth Allowance or Austudy Payment.”
 
“If the pre-Budget pension rate of $285 per week is not enough for a single pensioner to live decently, then $227 is not enough for an unemployed person. Also, $550 per week (including $285 for the parent and $265 in Family Tax Benefits for the children) is not enough for a sole parent to raise two school age children alone.”
 
“Past governments sought to justify the gap between pensions and unemployment payments because pensioners have to rely on income support for longer. In reality half of all people on Newstart Allowance now rely on this payment for over one year, andover a quarter for over two years.”
 
As unemployment rises, closing the gaps between payments will be more important. ACOSS has been urging the Government to extend pension increases for single people to sole parents on Parenting Payment Single, and the single rates of Newstart Allowance, Austudy and Abstudy Payments, Special Benefit and Youth Allowance (for those living independently of their parents).

Media Contact: Clare Cameron, ACOSS – 0419 626 155