ALP Inequality Agenda A New Start for Unemployed – NFP
Monday, 21st March 2016 at 8:58 am
The Welfare Rights Centre NSW says the Labor Party’s new social policy framework is a positive blueprint that could help to reduce inequality and poverty in Australia.
The Labor opposition recently released its policy agenda called Growing Together which examines some of the key economic and social challenges facing Australia and outlines a policy to tackle inequality by delivering full employment.
“A commitment to full employment and individualised, wraparound services to address the barriers to work experienced by disadvantaged people is an essential step in the journey into employment,” Policy and Media Officer at the Welfare Rights Centre NSW, Gerard Thomas, said.
“Access to legal services, fair and efficient tax reform, housing affordability and ensuring access to high quality Centrelink services are additional ingredients to add to this comprehensive report.
“An independent, expert review into the adequacy of the Newstart Allowance is welcome. The single adult Newstart Allowance currently stands of 39.8 per cent of the national minimum wage. This leaves many people unable to afford soaring rents, and to meet food costs and utility bills. The poverty of Newstart is grinding and it robs people of their dignity.
“Lifting the Newstart Allowance will provide a new start while people are preparing for a looking for work.
“An increase in the Newstart Allowance will help to redress a serious policy mistake which is responsible for pushing thousands of single parent families deeper into poverty.”
Thomas said single parents on Newstart with no other income were currently $82 a week worse off than their peers on the Parenting Payment Single as a result of successive government cuts to social security payments for lone parents.
“These cuts have left single parents worse-off by about $1,480 a year. The 46 per cent of single working parents earning employment income are even worse off as a result of the harsher means testing arrangements that apply to the Newstart Allowance,” he said.
Thomas said Welfare Rights was interested to hear how the major parties plan to improve access to Centrelink services, reduce excessive telephone wait times and shorten the time it takes to process Centrelink appeals when they disagree with the decision.
“Last year there were about 125,000 Centrelink appeals across all levels, and in the past two years complaints about Centrelink increased by 35 per cent,” he said.
The Labor inequality policy agenda also received support from welfare peak body ACOSS, Anglicare and Early Childhood Australia.