Welfare Groups Concerned Over Proposed Cuts to Family Payments
4 May 2012 at 5:29 pm
Speculation that the Federal Government will cut welfare payments to families in order to return a surplus in next week’s budget would worsen poverty in Australia, according to the nation's leading welfare bodies.
The Government is expected to cut parenting support for single parents whose children are older than eight years and scale down child support payments to couples with children in Tuesday's budget, delivering $700 million in savings.
But the Australian Council of Social Service, National Welfare Rights Network, and National Council for Single Mothers and their Children say that a budget surplus should not come at the expense of the most needy.
"Sole parents are already required to seek paid work once their youngest child turns eight, this won't make any difference to their job prospects whatsoever, and in fact will make them worse," ACOSS chief executive Dr Cassandra Goldie said.
"One third of single parents on parenting payment already work, mostly part-time. This would effectively mean a cut in income of $59 a week for those on the maximum rate who are already struggling to raise their children on low payments," Dr Goldie said.
The peak bodies are urging the government to instead focus on tackling poorly targeted subsidies and tax concessions and tax loopholes which they say would save billions of dollars to the budget bottom line.
President of the National Welfare Rights Network Maree O’Halloran said that the surplus should not be built on the backs of Australia's poorest families and their children.
“Keeping a roof over their heads, paying utility bills and paying for school expenses is going to be that much harder under if these cuts proceed," O'Halloran said.
"We estimate such a move would force a further 100,000 single parents of children from disadvantaged and low income families onto the lower paying Newstart Allowance.”
O’Halloran said that the current rate of social security payment for a person in receipt of Parenting Payment Single is $324 a week.
However, the rate of payments for a principal carer on Newstart is just $265 per week – a payment reduction of $59 a week or $3,086 a year.
"Financial Hardship makes finding a job so much harder. No one wins when some children just get are left behind – a family breaks down when struggling with financial stress on a daily basis," National Council of Single Mothers and their Children chief executive Terese Edwards said.
Meanwhile, UnitingCare’s Lin Hatfield Dodds said that the government should address the issues that make it difficult for single parents to get a job.
“Entry level jobs are scarce, especially in areas where unemployment rates are two to three times the national average,” Hatfield Dodds said. “This is a complex issue that demands a comprehensive response.”
A report by ACOSS which was released last week identifies around $8 billion dollars in budget savings if the Federal Government tackles poorly targeted subsidies and tax concessions and clamps down on tax loopholes such as ‘golden handshakes’ and other shelters.
"Our report ‘Waste not, want not: Making room in the Budget for essential services' identifies around $8 billion that could be saved by targeting the new layer of rebates which have grown unsustainably in the past decade as well as other tax breaks and loopholes, which overwhelming benefit those on high incomes," Dr Goldie said.
The Federal Budget will be handed down on Tuesday May 8.
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