Lack of affordable housing report highlights desperate plight of people surviving on Newstart

Human rights experts to consider international action

A disturbing report released today highlights that people struggling to survive on Newstart face an impossible task of affording decent housing, and backs the call for an increase to the single rate of Newstart Allowance.

The 2013 Anglicare Australia Rental Affordability Snapshot report found that just 13 properties of 56,414 rental properties surveyed across Australia were affordable for anyone on the Newstart or other allowances. With competition for low cost housing intense, people who are unemployed have no chance.

“This is a distressing finding and highlights the need for more adequate support for disadvantaged groups in our community, particularly those on the lowest of payments. As Anglicare is the latest to report, the single rate of Newstart must be lifted by $50 a week in the May federal Budget. Newstart hasn’t been increased in nearly 20 years and simply is not keeping up with community cost of living, especial rental prices,” said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.

At a Public Seminar to be held today in Sydney, human rights experts will discuss what action can be taken to place pressure on the Australian parliament to finally increase the single rate of Newstart and other allowances. There is widespread concern, both nationally and internationally about the unbearably low rate of Newstart, including from the OECD, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, three Australian Parliamentary Committees, numerous reports from leading welfare agencies and academics, and leading business groups, including most recently, Mr Tony Shephard, the President of the Business Council of Australia, at his recent National Press Club speech.

Dr Goldie said, “With more single parents and more people with disability being forced onto Newstart as a result of recent social security changes, the case for an increase is compelling”.

“At just $35 a day, people cannot survive on Newstart with any dignity, including being able to afford a roof over their head. An increase in Newstart is a vital investment in supporting people back into paid work. The Anglicare Report is another distressing example that adds to the overwhelming evidence that urgent action is required.” 

Media Enquiries: Fernando de Freitas 0419 626 155

Seminar: Realising the Human Right to Social Security: An Australian Story Unfolding
Date: 1 – 2pm Monday, April 29, 2013
Venue: Staff Common Room, Level 2, UNSW Law (F8) UNSW

Attendance is free and media are invited – Enquiries: 02 9385 1803

Beth Goldblatt – Beth is a Visiting Fellow at the Australian Human Rights Centre, UNSW.
Dr Cassandra Goldie – CEO, Australian Council of Social Service
Gerard Thomas – Media and Policy Officer, Welfare Rights Centre

The Seminar is a joint event between the Australian Human Rights Centre and ACOSS.