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Government needs to increase Newstart and abandon budget cuts

The Australian Greens said today that new evidence on the dire inadequacy of allowance payments, including Newstart, shows the urgent need for the Government to increase levels of income support and move away from irresponsible changes to payment indexation.

"The gap between pensions and allowances is now $170 a week, and allowances are falling in value when compared with both the minimum wage and the pension," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on family and community services said today.

"ACOSS and National Welfare Rights Network are calling for this gap to be addressed, describing it as the most critical task faced by the Government's Welfare Review.

"The Greens fully support an increase to Newstart and Youth Allowance and we have legislation before Parliament right now to lift the payment by $50 per week.

"If the government is genuine about improving our Social Security system they must address the rate of Newstart and increase this payment.

"However, I am concerned that the Government will again fail to act on this issue, despite the fact that the evidence of Newstart's inadequacy is overwhelming and the support for increasing it is widespread.

"This payment is inadequate for giving people the support they need to look for work, and as a result, people are exposed to poverty and disadvantage to such an extent that the barriers to work they face are compounded, while new ones, such as poverty and ill health can result.

"Today's analysis also shows the danger of the Government's plans to cut indexation for other payments, including pensions, in their budget measures, which are due for debate in the Senate this week.

"Once again, it is clear that the Government is ignoring critical problems such as the payment gap in order to focus on ideology and their cruel agenda.

"They should be focusing on the major flaws within our social security system, starting with allowances such as Newstart," Senator Siewert concluded.


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