ACOSS calls for commitment to increase income support

AYAC supports the Australian Council of Social Service as they urge the Commonwealth Government to commit to increase income support allowances like Newstart as recommended by the Henry Review, in order to tackle growing inequality in Australia.

ACOSS CEO, Cassandra Goldie states “There is widespread consensus that the paltry payment levels for allowances such as Newstart, Parenting Payment Single, and Youth Allowance is one of the principle reasons for increasing hardship and poverty in our rich country. This was highlighted at the recent Tax Forum in Canberra where participants almost unanimously agreed that the Newstart Allowance of $35 a day is simply not enough to live on.”

“ACOSS maintains that the growing disparity between people on Newstart Allowance and those on pensions like the DSP, which now stands at $131 a week, must be addressed as a matter of urgency. This is especially imperative given the real likelihood of a substantial increase in the number of people going onto Newstart Allowance as a result of the Government’s planned changes to the eligibility criteria for DSP. There are already over 100,000 people with disabilities on the Newstart payment.

“We urge the Federal Government to listen to the overwhelming consensus emerging – not only among the entire community sector – but also unions, academics, economists, the Henry Review and the OECD. We call for a commitment to a $50 increase in single payment allowances and to index allowances the same way as pensions.

“ACOSS understands the current political reality and budgetary constraints, however, we believe the time has come to address this pressing issue. We feel the $1b cost is modest and not significant enough to blow the budget bottom line. It could be funded almost immediately by Government action to close business loopholes and shelters that we estimate cost at least $20 billion in forgone revenue every year.

“This important step would almost overnight lift around one million Australians out of the worst forms of deprivation. It would also go some way to address the growing divide between the rich and poor which is greater than ever before. The price of not acting is to condemn many more people to poverty and the margins of our society,” Dr Goldie said.