The Melbourne Institute’s HILDA report released today shows child poverty in single parent families has reached a crisis level, rising from 18% to 23% in the two years since social security for sole parents was cut in 2013.
The causes of rising child poverty in single parent families include inadequate and frozen family payments, lack of decently-paid jobs, unaffordable childcare and low home ownership.
“The increase in child poverty is a reality that our political leaders have known about and yet continue to make worse”, says Dr Cassandra Goldie, ACOSS CEO.
“We can end child poverty if governments have the will to make the necessary reforms.
“ACOSS has repeatedly warned that child poverty is increasing.
“Successive governments have instead chosen to cut social security for single parents, including single parent payments by $85 per week once the youngest child turns eight, and removing indexation of family payments to wages in 2009.
“This year, family payments were slashed by another $2 billion through freezing payment rates (not even indexing them to inflation) for the next two years.
“Right now, there is legislation before the parliament that would cut the income of a single parent who is studying by up to $1,000 each year.
“We could eliminate child poverty by increasing completely inadequate social security payments for single parents and their children, improving the quality and pay of jobs available to them, and investing in affordable housing.
The HILDA Report also shows that average child care costs for single parents rose by 104% from 2002 to 2014, to an average of $114 a week, which was 9% of the low income of an average sole parent family.
“The Government’s child care changes last year cut fee relief for many sole parents out of paid work.
“More should be done to ease the burden of child care costs for families in poverty. We must also ensure that child support is collected in a timely manner.
“We should not have child poverty in this wealthy country of ours.
“We must act to eliminate poverty amongst our children and give them every opportunity to live a healthy and happy life,” says Dr Goldie.