More than 600,000 unemployed Australians risk falling further into poverty

5 March 2011

More than 600,000 unemployed people in Australia risk falling further into poverty as a result of the Federal Government’s uneven indexation increases to pensions aimed at meeting increases in the cost of living, according to the Australian Council of Social Service.

The peak body for the community and social services sector today expressed concern that the twice annual indexation increases to pensions is leading to a widening gap between people on aged, disability and carers pensions and those on Newstart and Single Parents allowances.

“Whilst we welcome the indexation increases as crucial in helping people on pensions stay afloat, it is extremely distressing to see well over half a million people currently on Newstart falling further below the poverty line as a result of receiving insufficient indexation increases,” said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.

“Because the government indexes pensions differently, people on Newstart are only receiving $5.20 increase fortnightly compared to $13.20 for those on pensions.

“This raises the already staggering gap between these payments to $127 per week, with people on Newstart to receive $238 per week from March 20 compared to $365 per week for those on the pension.

“ACOSS has consistently called on the Government to index all pensions and allowances in the same way – cost of living index and wages – so all people on income support are treated fairly and given the same level of lifeline support to meet the growing costs of essentials like rent, utilities and food.

“Unless this is done, that gap will continue to accelerate and lead to more and more people plunging into poverty,” Dr Goldie said.

Media contact: Fernando de Freitas – 0419 626 155