ACOSS rejects calls for cuts to welfare payments to pay for flood reconstruction

The Australian Council of Social Service today rejected calls for income support payments to be cut to pay for flood reconstruction, following the recent natural disasters.

“We have made it very clear to the Federal Government that cuts to welfare payments, including Disability Support Pensions, would be the wrong approach to take. You don’t help one group of people by plunging another into poverty,” said ACOSS CEO, Dr Cassandra Goldie.

“Any such move would only increase the hardship for people who are already among the most disadvantaged in society.

“We repeat our call for the Parliament to pass the Flood Levy. In addition, the Government should focus on finding savings in the national Budget by removing tax breaks and concessions that unfairly benefit higher income earners – not cutting essential programs and services or income support payments. For example, this is an ideal time for the Government in its search for savings to crack down on tax breaks on golden handshakes and removal of tax shelters on private discretionary trusts, which would raise about $2.5 billion per year.

“If we are serious about lifting workforce participation rates, we should not be cutting already inadequate income support payments. In fact, both the Henry Tax Review and the OECD recommend lifting the Newstart payment for people who are unemployed by about $50 per week. Right now, someone on Newstart is living on $33 a day.

“The way to help people get back into work is to provide them with the necessary skills, training and incentives, and ensure there is a job for them to take up at the end of it.

“In our pre-budget submission ACOSS proposes more intensive help for the long term unemployed, including a six months paid work experience scheme in a regular job

“We also propose a boost to Job Services Australia funding after the current review process, to ensure more targeted help that will get people on income support into paid work.

“The Government should also ease the Newstart Allowance income test for sole parents and people with disabilities to make part-time paid work financially worthwhile, Dr Goldie said”

Media Contact: Fernando de Freitas 0419 626 155