Consensus builds on need to raise low safety net payments in Budget

EMBARGOED: 8.15AM Monday 30 April

ACOSS has welcomed the call in the annual Deloitte Access Economics Budget Monitor, released today, for an increase to Australia’s ’embarrassingly inadequate unemployment benefits’ in this year’s Federal Budget.

“Deloitte Access Economics is spot on to nominate the single standout fairness failure in Australia in 2018 to be the low level of income support payments for unemployed people and students,” said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.

“We know that Newstart and related payments have not been increased in real terms for 24 years, leaving around one million people battling to keep a roof over their heads and feed themselves, and hamstrung in looking for paid work. People locked out of paid work simply cannot survive on the unemployment payment of $538.80 a fortnight.

“The single most effective way for the government to relieve the worst poverty is to raise the lowest social security payment.

“As Deloitte Access Economics rightly concludes on the need to lift these low payments: ‘As a nation, we can and should do better. History will judge us harshly if we don’t.’

“ACOSS shares Deloitte’s concern about the sustainability of the budget if the next election becomes a race to the bottom on tax. Recent polls show that most people would be underwhelmed by another round of income tax cuts.

“Most people give higher priority to improving our health system, creating jobs and reducing unemployment, investing in quality education, affordable homes, and a decent safety net for people who fall on hard times. This is of more lasting value for people than a ‘half a sandwich and half a milkshake’ tax cut.

“We know from the experience of eight tax cuts during the mining boom that it is foolhardy to base the budget strategy on the assumption that so called ‘rivers of gold’ will flow again, when the reality is the economic future remains uncertain.

“An arbitrary, permanent cap on government tax revenues of 23.9% of GDP, as proposed by this government means a cap on medical services, aged care, schools spending, and social security for people doing it tough.

“If essential services like the NDIS are deprived of the solid revenue base they need, future governments will be forced to cut corners, ration services, and lift out of pocket costs for everyday families.

‘’The truth is that the progress in restoring the budget to surplus has been made off the backs of the most disadvantaged, such as single parents, people with disability, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and people from migrant and refugee backgrounds. These same groups will be worst affected if there is a race to bottom on tax.

“This government has already slashed $12 billion from the social security budget, and plans to rip out more in unlegislated cuts still before Parliament. Enough is enough. It’s time for an end to this onslaught and the demonising of people whom we’ve allowed to fall behind for too long.”

More Information in the ACOSS Budget Statement:


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