Lack of action to increase Newstart Allowance fails most disadvantaged

Community welfare groups have expressed deep disappointment today at the news that the federal Government will not include a much needed increase in the below poverty line Newstart Allowance payment in Tuesday’s Budget, despite growing community support.

“We welcome the news that the income free area will be increased to allow people on the $35 a day payment to keep more of the money that they earn. However, this will do nothing for the 4 out of 5 people on Newstart who cannot get into paid work and have no other earnings,” said Dr Cassandra Goldie, CEO, Australian Council of Social Service.

“Increasing the income free area is only one part of the package and does nothing to help the most disadvantaged groups. We must address the inadequate allowance payment rates that have been effectively frozen in time for the past 20 years. And we must also invest in more employment assistance, especially for the long term unemployed, if we are to help people get into work and reduce poverty in Australia.”

Terese Edwards from the National Council for Single Mothers and their Children said, “Allowing people to earn a bit more alone does not respond to the damage that has been done to around 80,000 single parent families.

“The Government has ripped $700,000 million dollars out the pockets of needy sole parent families, and will give around $300 million back to a potential pool of around 800,000 people on Newstart. This is simply inadequate,” Ms Edwards said.

Maree O’Halloran from the National Welfare Rights Network said, “Increasing the income free area to $100 per fortnight will assist many of the people who call our Centres across Australia who are struggling to find full-time work. The increase may also encourage more people on Newstart to take up casual shifts.”

“Lifting and indexing to the earnings thresholds, access to education support through the Pensioner Education Supplement and extending access to the valuable Pensioner Concession Card are important reforms. They could have been properly applauded if they had been accompanied by the much -needed increase to Newstart.”

“We urge the community, business, the ACTU and all members of the Federal Parliament to continue to support a much needed $50 per week increase to the single Newstart Allowance and improved payment indexation arrangements,” Ms O’Halloran said.

Fernando de Freitas at ACOSS – 0419 626 155
Terese Edwards – NCSMC – 0439 211 493
Gerard Thomas – National Welfare Rights Network – 0425 296 882