Not an either-or: Newstart must be lifted to ease worsening poverty in Australia

Peak community welfare groups and charities today restated their call for a $50 increase in Allowance payments such as Newstart in this year’s Federal Budget as a fundamental requirement to help lift hundreds and thousands of people out of worsening poverty in Australia.

Media reports yesterday suggested the Government is considering a proposal to allow single parents and other people on the Newstart Allowance to keep more of their earnings before losing benefits, rather than increasing the Newstart payment itself. This is not an ‘either or’ choice. While we need to allow people to keep more of the money they earn, we also need a more adequate base payment.

There should not be a trade-off or the central problem that current payment levels are driving people further into poverty and making it more difficult for people to find paid work will be missed. It is like filling potholes in a road when the road should be rebuilt.

The poverty experienced by people on these very low payments, including those parents who are unable to find any paid work, is real and must be addressed if we are going to make any difference in the worsening plight of people on allowance payments.

If the problem with Newstart Allowance isn’t fixed then more and more people will suffer a loss of income as they are bumped down from the pension onto Newstart. The gap between the pension and Newstart Allowance for a single adult without children is $140. For single parents on Newstart it is $120 per week.

The evidence is clear that the inadequate $35 a day payment is having a devastating impact on people’s lives. They are simply unable to keep a roof over their head, feed themselves, pay bills and look for work on a payment that hasn’t been increased in real terms for nearly 20 years.

To read the complete Joint Media Release, please click here