Targeting the poor to find budget cuts - a far cry from 'Labor Values'

Posted 10 May 2013 10:26am

Catholic Social Services Australia (CSSA) is disappointed that the Federal Government is set to rule out an increase to the Newstart Allowance in next week’s Federal Budget.

Together with Australia’s business leaders, economists and other social welfare agencies, CSSA has been calling for an overdue increase to the Newstart Allowance. It is at odds with the oft touted Labor values that the 682,000 Australians who barely survive on Newstart have been relegated once again to such a low political priority.

“Our poorest and most disadvantaged fellow citizens will continue to suffer as a result of this decision,” said Executive Director of CSSA, Mr Paul O’Callaghan. “The Newstart Allowance has not increased in real terms for nearly 20 years and according to The National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) research published last year, those living in households where Newstart is their main source of income are going into debt to survive.”

“Whilst the Government’s proposed option of a small increase in the numbers of hours a job seeker can work before losing Newstart income is welcome – by itself this is inadequate. Such a measure needs to be part of a suite of measures aimed at getting people on Newstart engaged in the workforce. It should not be an excuse to sideline the allowance level issue yet again,” he said.

“The lead-up to this budget has not been good for poor and disadvantaged Australians,” said Mr O’Callaghan.

“An increase in Newstart is looking unlikely; the planned increase to the Family Tax Benefit will not proceed; more people with a disability are being shifted into effective poverty on the Newstart allowance, as many single parents are now experiencing; and large numbers of asylum seeker families are being put into the community on bridging visas with a dire financial outlook.”

“While we welcome the bipartisan commitment reached on funding for DisabilityCare, it is hard to see traditional Labor Values shine through in the decisions being made about funding expenditure in this country.” he said.

CONTACT: Jackie Brady 0417 220 779

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