Following reports that Nationals are considering an expansion of the cashless debit card as part of a Newstart increase, the Australian Council of Social Service is reiterating its strong position against the cashless debit card.
ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie said: “The cashless debit card is designed to control people on low incomes just because they haven’t been able to find a job. It is grossly unfair, impractical, demeaning, unproven and expensive.
“Are we now saying that, in addition to having to wait 25 years for an increase in incomes for people doing it the toughest, the trade-off would be control over their lives? Life is hard enough already for people on Newstart who trying to get through tough times and into paid work.
“Half of people on Newstart are 45 or older, one quarter have an illness or disability and more than 100,000 people on Newstart are single parents.
“Having to pay with the card cuts off some of the cheaper ways for people to get by such as buying second hand furniture or buying food from markets.
“People feel humiliated when they have to pay with the cashless debit card, especially in small communities.
“The government has shown no willingness to do a proper evaluation on cashless debit. The evaluations conducted so far do not demonstrate that cashless debit helps people.
“Cashless debit is also hugely expensive, costing thousands per person to administer.
“Instead of considering forcing people onto cashless debit cards, we need our political leaders to act to increase Newstart and better fund employment services to help people get paid work.
“Newstart must be urgently increased. 25 years with no real increase has left people in a spiral of debt and deprivation that makes it much harder to get paid work.”