Welfare Network Appeals for Better Job Services
31 January 2014 at 2:42 pm
The National Welfare Rights Network has renewed its calls for income support payments and to improve the employment services system after recent figures showed an increase in the numbers of people living on Newstart Allowance.
Earlier this week Federal Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews indicated that from 1992-2012, the number of Disability Support Pension recipients more than doubled, going from 378,558 to 827,460 – an increase of 118 per cent.
“The same is true of the Newstart Allowance, whose recipients increased in number from 399,401 in 2008 to 549, 772 in 2012,” Andrews said in a speech to Not for Profit Directors for Australian Institute of Company Directors in Melbourne.
“I should note this statistic does not include the single parents moved on to Newstart by former Prime Minister Gillard in 2013.”
According to figures in 2013, 646,414 were receiving the Newstart allowance – a result of the changes to Parenting Payment Single allowance.
NWRN President Maree O’Halloran said: “In September 2013, there were 825,238 people on the Disability Support, and this was eclipsed by the total numbers of people on Newstart and Youth Allowance, which stood at 827,039 at December 2013.
“The numbers of people on unemployment benefits has increased at a faster rate than those receiving the Disability Support Pension in part because government policy pushed many single parent families onto the Newstart Allowance.
“Now it looks like a new government may be considering pushing even more people with disabilities onto the below-poverty level Newstart Allowance as well.
“Annual growth in the numbers of people in the disability payment increased by 1 percent last year, from 824,868 in October 2012 to 825,238 in September 2013. In contrast, the total numbers on Newstart and Youth Allowance increased by 18 per cent between December 2012 and December 2013. In real terms, the numbers of unemployed people increased from 700,133 to 827,039 in late 2013.
"We are extremely concerned about how many people are trying to survive on below- poverty income support payments. The economy is partly, but not wholly, to blame for this sorry situation. Successive rounds of welfare reform by the last two Governments has left more parents and people with disabilities stranded on the Newstart Allowance which is just $35 a day for a single person.
“Among those finding it hardest to break into the labour market are 177,000 job seekers with disabilities on Newstart and a further 15,000 on the even lower Youth Allowance. Another 150,000 unemployed people are aged over 50 and often face daily rejection because of their age.
“There are very sobering statistics. The reality is that there are far more people looking for work than there are available jobs. Blaming unemployed people for their predicament and feeding stereotypes about dole bludgers won’t help one single jobless person into work.
“With jobs growth at its lowest rate in 20 years, a rate of unemployment at 5.8 per cent and many people facing job insecurity, the situation for many people is bleak indeed.
“This is not the time for re-hashing failed ‘work for the dole’ schemes, but for a revitalised and more effective employment services system.”