More People Stuck on Unemployment Payments
30 July 2015 at 12:05 pm
Seventy per cent of the people relying on Newstart payments have been on the unemployment payment for more than a year, according to the latest data.
Figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that of those on Newstart or the Youth Allowance, there are 612,953 long term recipients out of a total of 883,937, an increase of 10 per cent over the last 12 months.
The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) said the figures should be a call to attention.
“The fact that now 70 per cent of people relying on Newstart have been on that payment for more than a year, should alarm us all,” ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie said.
“With just one job available for every five people looking for paid work, the lack of job opportunities is a major driver in this increase.”
Goldie said major changes to social security had placed increasing pressure on people locked out of paid work.
“With both the previous and current Governments changing the rules about who is eligible for the Disability Support Pension, and also the Single Parenting Payment, many people with disabilities or significant caring responsibilities are now struggling to get by on Newstart and yet still unable to find paid work,” she said.
“They have joined the queue of people who are long-term unemployed, the only change for them being that they are poorer, by up to $170 per week. The single rate of Newstart is now just $37 a day.”
The data comes on the back of a report by Jesuit Social Services and Catholic Social Services Australia, showing that high unemployment is a significant issue in 23 out of 37 of the most disadvantaged communities around the country.
Goldie said the high level of youth disengagement in work or study, as well as low education and training levels was also concerning.
“This rise in long-term unemployment is structural. We continue to call for the Federal Government to take this issue seriously. The lack of job opportunities is the major barrier to getting into work, as is a persistent failure of workplaces to provide flexible work,” she said.
“In addition, people who are unemployed long term often face additional barriers to getting a job, including lack of recent work experience, a mismatch of skills with jobs available and real challenges in sustaining hope in the face of repeated rejections of about 10 job applications a fortnight. On top of this, people on ‘welfare’ face of the nasty stigma generated by Government and media rhetoric, which labels people as ‘leaners’, ‘dole cheats’ or ‘milking the taxpayer’ which does nothing to help support people, nor to build confidence in employers to give people a chance.”
Goldie said a serious jobs plan for people who are long-term unemployed would involve greater investment in targeted assistance for people on an individual basis to support skills development and support.
“An effective jobs plan would also include a real increase in the rate of Newstart, after 20 years of stagnation. Major changes to rules about the DSP and the Single Parenting Payment have saved millions of dollars and growing every year but have come at the expense of forcing many more people into poverty, and for longer. $37 a day is not enough,” she said.
“The Federal Government must also abandon the plan to deprive young people of income support for four weeks of each year and the Budget decision to cut the family payments of low income parents. These changes will only put more people into financial distress, not create jobs or put people in a better position to find paid work.”