Rising Numbers of Jobless Australians Living On $32 / Day Need Payment Boost

10 September 2009

Despite this month’s welcome pension increase, the growing numbers of Australians relying on unemployment payments are at risk of being left behind on payments which have not substantially increased since the 1980s, the Australian Council of Social Service has warned.

While today’s ABS figures show the unemployment rate is steady at 5.8%, there are some troubling indicators including the net loss of 27,000 full-time jobs, and a continued drop in the number of hours worked. Applications for unemployment benefits are trending upward and rose by 40% from May 08 to May 09.

“It is extremely concerning there are thousands of Australians without work and rising numbers of people are relying on inadequate unemployment payments,” said Clare Martin, CEO, Australian Council of Social Service.

“Among those doing it toughest, the 644,000 Australians on unemployment payments struggle to make ends meet. How does a single unemployed Australian budget for rent, groceries and bills on $32 a day? Despite this, there has been no substantial increase in the real value of unemployment payments since the 1980s.”

“From 20 September, single age, disability support and carer pensioners will have $33 added to their base rate payments. The Government should be applauded for this unprecedented increase in the age pension rate which will bring financial relief for many struggling pensioners.”

“Most single people on Newstart will get a top up of just $1.35 per week, bringing the base rate to $228 per week. This will lead to an astounding gap of $108 per week between typical payment rates for single pensioners and unemployed Australians.”

“No matter what payment you are on, essential items like groceries, petrol and electricity bills cost the same. ACOSS continues to urge the Government to lift the single Newstart allowance rate by $30 per week as a first step to closing the gap between payments.”

“We know that people who go on to Newstart can languish there for long periods. 112,000 people who went onto Newstart were still on the payment five years later (to May 2009) according to recently released data from Senate Estimates Hearings.”

Changes to single weekly payments :

Unemployment payment (Newstart)
No pensioner supplements payable

  • Previous amount: $ 227
  • ncrease (includes indexation) $ 1.35
  • Amount from 20 Sept $ 228

Pensions (excluding Parenting Payment)

  • Previous amount $ 275
  • Increase (includes indexation) $ 33
  • Amount from 20 Sept $ 308
  • ($336 including supplements for telephone, utilities and pharmaceuticals)

 Media Contact: Clare Cameron 0419 626 155