27 August 2012
The peak body for Australia’s community welfare sector, ACOSS, says a new report released today by major Church Providers is further proof that Allowances such as Newstart are now so low it’s leaving people in worsening poverty and severely limiting their chances to find paid work.
The NATSEM report commissioned by ACOSS members Anglicare Australia, Catholic Social Services Australia, The Salvation Army and UnitingCare Australia, highlights what groups have been saying for a long time – namely that single people living alone and single parents on Newstart or Youth Allowance in particular face much greater financial hardship than others on government benefits and the general population.
“We know that Newstart Allowance has not been increased in real terms for nearly two decades and has been falling behind other pensions because its indexed to prices not wages. As this new report ‘Going Without: Financial Hardship in Australia’ illustrates, this is causing enormous hardship and leaving people in worsening levels of debt and poverty,” said Dr Cassandra Goldie, ACOSS CEO.
“The findings dispel the myth that Allowances like Newstart have to be kept low as an incentive to get unemployed people into work. The opposite is the actually true. $35 a day is simply not enough to live on, and makes it near impossible to assist people to get to interviews and prepare themselves to find work.
“The paltry payments are clearly inadequate to cover the most basic costs of living in Australia, which we know continues to go up, while Newstart has effectively been frozen in time.
“In our submission to the current Senate Inquiry into the adequacy of income support system, ACOSS points out that a single adult on Newstart more than doubles their after tax income if they obtain a fulltime job paid at the minimum wage. There is no question of dissentive if you raise Newstart to allow people a descent liveable existence whilst they look for work – you actually improve their chances of doing so.
“Everyone accepts that the best outcome for unemployed people is to get meaningful, long-term work. This is precisely the reason why we have called for increased supports to better prepare people back into paid work.
“The current Inquiry represents an opportunity to finally deal with this issue and we hope the Federal Government will do the right thing by unemployed people in Australia and increase Allowances by at least $50 a week,” Dr Goldie said.
Media Contact: Fernando de Freitas 0419 626 155
See ACOSS submission: ‘Surviving, not living’
Senate Employment Committee on the adequacy of ‘allowance’ payments. Find out more >>
A copy of the report is available at Going Without: Financial Hardship in Australia