Budget - inadequate income support

The Brotherhood of St Laurence has long advocated for action to deal with stubborn unemployment still hurting too many in our most vulnerable communities.


Ongoing investments are essential to build the skills of disadvantaged Australians of working age so they can fully participate in the economic and social life of our prosperous nation.


Brotherhood of St Laurence executive director Conny Lenneberg said, “But the Brotherhood remains deeply concerned about Australia’s fraying social safety net, which undermines efforts to get people into jobs,” she said. “The very low rate of the Newstart Allowance acts as a barrier to people securing work and fully participating in Australia’s economy.” 


“The long forgotten people of this federal Budget - yet again - are Australians who rely on Newstart to make ends meet,” said Ms Lenneberg. ”After 25 years of economic growth, our country’s unemployment benefit remains far too low.”


Ms Lenneberg said increasing Newstart is not just about being fair - it makes good economic sense.


“Newstart is so utterly inadequate - as little as $38.98 a day - that many people on the payment can’t afford to properly conduct their job search. They are struggling to cover the basics of life. The truth is that there are costs involved in looking for work: maintaining a mobile phone, paying for transport and having presentable clothing to attend interviews. 


“Disturbingly, housing costs are so high these days that an increasing number of vulnerable people on Newstart are forced into homelessness. Newstart should enable people to get into work, but the unintended consequences of very low rates is that it presents a huge barrier to employment. How can you properly look for a job when you can't even afford to keep a roof over your head?


“Fixing Newstart is a moral challenge for our democracy. It is not fair to consign people searching for work to poverty amid such a run of economic prosperity. It is not only welfare groups, but economists and business who are calling for an urgent increase in Newstart. We must share the pie,” Ms Lenneberg said.


10 May 2018.