The time has come for the Commonwealth Government to raise low paying income support payments with new research revealing that most Australians support increasing the below the poverty line Newstart Allowance, according to the Australian Council of Social Service.
The Australia Institute report released today shows that most people in Australia believe the current Newstart Allowance payment of $245 a week is far too low to meet the most basic costs of living and support a raise of between $84 to $329 per week.
“This is higher than the $50 a week that ACOSS has been calling for following the recommendation of the comprehensive Henry Tax Review back in 2010. Now not only business groups, unions, researches, and Australia’s community sector thinks the payment level is unliveable but also the majority of people in Australia,” said ACOSS CEO, Dr Cassandra Goldie.
“There are nearly 600,000 unemployed people in Australia, and when workers lose their jobs through no fault of their own, as seen currently with workers in the manufacturing industries, the unemployment benefit is often the only safety net they have. We shouldn’t be hitting them with the compounding distress of having to live in poverty.
“Business groups, unions, academics and employment assistance services have all said that the current payment level is actually a disincentive for people to find employment.
“Whilst ACOSS agrees that we need a strong economy to be able to provide the essential social services and infrastructure our community needs, we don’t believe a Budget surplus should come at the expense of those already at rock bottom.
“We maintain that Australia can afford this modest increase to Newstart and other Allowances of $50 a week at the upcoming Budget, and our Budget submission identifies some of the areas in which the money could be found to fund this. What’s needed now is the political will to do the right thing by people facing tough times,” Dr Goldie concluded.
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