‘Fair go’ budget less fair for some
The National Welfare Rights Network released the statement below on May 9.
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“The nation’s budget is now in the black but unfortunately more single parent families are in the red,” said Maree O’Halloran, President of the National Welfare Rights Network today in a preliminary response to the May 8 federal budget.
“There are some small but significant gains in the budget for people made redundant and for those currently looking for work, studying or/and caring for children.
“In particular, the doubling of the amount of savings a single retrenched worker can have to $5,000 before they have to wait for the Newstart Allowance will provide some relief for people experiencing the stress of an unexpected job loss.
“Unfortunately, single parent families are the biggest losers in this budget, despite the new Supplementary Allowance and the increases to family payments. Cuts for ‘job-ready’ job seekers and a lack of any significant new employment assistance will not help parents and unemployed people find work.
“Mature age unemployed people may welcome the extra help to find work, but it is disappointing that the popular Wage Assist scheme — with 5000 starters since January 1 2012 — was not doubled. Welfare groups were seeking an additional 10,000 six-month wage subsidies each year.
“The new annual Supplementary Allowance, worth $210 per annum for a single person, is a sign that finally the government recognises that unemployed people, young people and students are under considerable cost of living pressures.
“Forty five thousand single parents currently on Newstart Allowance, 100,000 parents pushed onto it from July 2013 and unemployed people generally will be very disappointed that the government has failed to increase the Allowance by $50 a week.
“The campaign for a meaningful increase in Newstart Allowance that assists people to find work starts again today.
“This budget lays the important foundations for a National Disability Insurance Scheme and a comprehensive dental health scheme. The government has ensured that Australians on high [incomes] also contribute to the surplus bottom line by reducing unfair superannuation tax breaks and cutting tax breaks for ‘golden handshakes’ and the living away from home allowance. These are good first steps in making our tax system both fairer and more sustainable.
“Essential frontline services at Centrelink may deteriorate, with longer waiting times and the quality of decision-making further compromised, as more staff are cut to meet the demands of the efficiency dividend.
“With the Ombudsman’s office losing 15% of its staff (23), there may be less scrutiny of government services, at a time when standards are falling. The laudable aims of the Minister for Human Services to tackle the problem of Centrelink overpayments will be made more difficult with less staff and fewer resources.”