30 April 2010
ACOSS is looking to the Henry Review to recommend targeted changes to ease hardship among Australians on income support payments and make it easier for people to move into work.
“The Henry Review is a once-in-a-generation chance to reform working-age income support payments, which cost the Government about $30 billion every year,” said Clare Martin, CEO, ACOSS.
“ACOSS has proposed a new system where all Australians of working age are paid the same base payment rate. Payments would be topped up for extra costs, such as rent, disability, caring, education and training.
“This would end an inequitable system that discourages people from looking for work and pays people at different levels regardless of their circumstances.”
Under the ACOSS proposal, couples would receive 1.5 times the single rate and would cover payments for disability support pensioners, carers, sole parents, unemployed people and students.
“There is no justification for paying people in the same circumstances different amounts. One level of payment for all people of working age would be simpler and more equitable,” said Ms Martin.
“Currently some payments are $120 per week less than others. This is not equitable and means people are discouraged from looking for work as they fear ending up on lower unemployment payments.
“The base payment would be based on a Minimum Standard of Living – what it actually costs to live basically, but decently, in Australia. That’s likely to be more than the $230 per week a single unemployed adult receives on the Newstart Allowance.”
ACOSS has released its five benchmarks for equitable social security reforms, asking whether the Henry report will:
1. Equalise core social security payments for people of working age (pensions and allowances)?
2. Propose new supplements for people with disabilities, sole parent families, and job search and training expenses?
3. Increase in Family Tax Benefits and Youth Allowances to prevent poverty among families with older children?
4. Reform social security income tests to encourage unemployed people to seek part time and casual jobs?
5. Simplify income testing and taxation for pensioners?
Media Contact: Clare Cameron, 0419 626 155