Newstart Cuts Would Be ‘Crushing’
31 August 2016 at 4:34 pm
Proposed cuts to welfare support payment Newstart could leave almost 77,000 people with less than $24 a day to live on after they’d paid rent, according to the peak body for homelessness.
The Council to Homeless Persons said the $4.40 energy supplement cut would “crush the already broken backs” of tens of thousands of vulnerable people.
The Not for Profit said new figures from Senate Estimates papers meant that cutting the energy supplement from Newstart recipients would push people already on a knife edge of homelessness over the edge.
“The new figures show that one-in-four Newstart recipients or 76,951 Australians are in severe rental stress paying more than 50 per cent of income on rent, and that the number is rising every year,” Council for Homeless Persons acting CEO Kate Colvin said.
“The number of Newstart recipients paying more than 50 per cent of their income on rent has more than doubled in the last 15 years from 32,500 to 76,900.
“It is patently unfair to try to repair the budget by breaking the backs of people who are already doing it tough. With Australia in the grips of an affordable housing crisis we should be increasing Centrelink incomes, not trimming them.
“Slicing into Newstart payments punishes those who are already on the brink of homelessness, making it even harder to keep up with rent and have money left for food, bills, utilities, medical costs.”
Colvin said median rents in Melbourne recently hit $400 per week, with DHS rent data showing that just 6 per cent of all Melbourne rentals would be affordable to someone on a low income.
“When you’re looking for work, you need money to travel to job appointments, for clothing for interviews, to access the internet to search for jobs. How can you do that on less than $24 a day?”
Welfare payments are set to be a key issue for debate as parliament resumes this week.
The Greens announced on Monday they would oppose the cuts to income support in the budget.
“For years I have been calling for successive governments to substantially increase the Newstart allowance, which is woefully low and results in people living below the poverty line,” Senator Rachel Siewert said.
“It is hugely disappointing that the campaign to increase Newstart has now had to become a campaign to stop further cuts.
“I welcome the open letter by 35 notable Australians calling on Mr Turnbull to change tack on Newstart whilst calling on Labor to oppose the measure.
“Accountancy firm KPMG has previously acknowledged that political rhetoric has prevented the payment from going up, despite it being increasingly inadequate. This also rings true for this proposed cut.
“The Greens will be opposing the cut in the Senate. Newstart cannot go down any further.”