The Australian Greens say the Government should acknowledge the impact of their policy to move up to 150,000 single parents to Newstart Allowance, with new modelling showing thousands of parents will lose eligibility for important assistance available through the Pensioner Concession Card from January 1 2013.
The Senate today failed to support an Australian Greens motion calling for the Government to model the impact of this policy on single parents and examine whether this perversely impacts on their workforce participation.
“The single parents who are being moved to the Newstart Allowance will face a triple financial penalty through the combination of a cut to their base rate of income support, poorer taper rates (income free area) and loss of access to the Pensioner Concession Card,” Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said today.
“Parents face losing up to $60 per week in income support, but Newstarts’s lower income test means that if they are working, they will lose their Pensioner Concession Card much earlier than under the parenting payment.
“Why would the Government consciously make things even harder for single parents as they try to juggle work and family life?
“Welfare Rights Australia estimate over 10,000 people could be immediately impacted by this change, which has serious financial implications over the Christmas and school holiday period.
“This Government is constantly talking about the need for people to be working, but now they’re punishing people as a result of the lower income threshold.
“While no substitute for an adequate base rate of payment, the Pensioner Concession Card offers an important helping hand to people to pay for absolutely essential items and services, like medicine, public transport and utilities.
“This change is an insult to those parents who are working hard to raise a family and maintain a job. Losing this assistance will only make things harder for them and perversely, discourage workforce participation.
“Why would the Government look to make these cuts but still maintain multi-billion dollar handouts to the resource sector?
“As well as taking a proper look at the impact this policy will have on workforce participation and poverty, the Government should commit to increasing the clearly inadequate rate of Newstart by at least $50 per week to better support people receiving the payment- regardless of whether they are looking for work, raising children or acting as a carer,” Senator Siewert concluded.