Five Point Economic Stimulus Plan to Tackle Surge in Unemployment

ACOSS is urging the Government to implement a second economic stimulus plan and has released a five-point plan to protect low income Australians and to strengthen and safeguard the economy in the long term.

The number of Newstart Allowance recipients jumped by 27,000 in December 2008 from the previous month, according to the Government’s labour market figures published yesterday*. This increase is almost equal to the increase in recipients for the whole of 2008.

Clare Martin, CEO, ACOSS:
“Australia needs immediate action to assist job seekers find employment and ease financial hardship. The plan should lay the foundations for a stronger economy and a fairer society in the future. ACOSS’ five priorities are to create green jobs, construct social housing, implement paid work experience programs, increase unemployment payments and strengthen community services programs.”

1. Create green jobs: “A national program to improve energy efficiency in low income households involving home audits and retrofits, upgrades for basic equipment such as refrigerators and hot water systems would create thousands of new jobs. Investment in this industry would also spin off to benefit local trades and industries in the longer term. Green jobs and apprenticeships range from entry-level to high-skill positions in the building trades and home services. Successful programs currently underway could be quickly expanded.”

2. Construct social housing : “An initial investment of $875m over a year to finance the construction of new social housing dwellings would assist in creating jobs in the construction sector and also help alleviate the drastic undersupply of affordable accommodation and long waiting lists for public and community housing.”

3. Increase unemployment payments : “Increasing the Newstart allowance by $30 a week for singles would ease hardship among unemployed people as well as stimulate spending in areas most affected by rising unemployment. It would reduce the gap between pension and allowance payments that discourages many people with disabilities and sole parents from seeking work. This would cost $700m in 09-10 to assist 500,000 single unemployed people.”

4. Implement paid work experience for long term unemployed people : “People with limited skills risk becoming locked out of the jobs market if they can’t get work experience and training in regular jobs. The Government should fill the gap in job opportunities through a program of temporary work experience and training targeted to long term unemployed people. This would cost $400m in 09-10 to assist 25,000 long term unemployed people.”

5. Strengthen community services : “The Government needs to provide an immediate boost of $300m through existing programs such as counselling, family support and emergency relief services to cushion the effects of job losses and protect against social exclusion. ACOSS looks forward to working with the Government and the new Community Response Task Force on these initiatives.”
(*DEEWR labour market figures show numbers of people receiving payments from Centrelink and uses different parameters to measure unemployment than the Australian Bureau of Statistics labour force figures.)

Media Contact: Clare Cameron – 0419 626 155