Older Australians suffering due to political inaction on Newstart

National Seniors Australia, COTA Australia and The Benevolent Society have issued a joint statement about the importance of Newstart Allowance to older workers.

 

In the 2019 Budget the Treasurer either forgot or chose to ignore the poverty suffered by Newstart recipients. Then the Opposition leader did the same in his reply.

 

Older workers have been largely ignored in the public discussion about the inadequacy of Newstart, but we can’t forget or ignore the impact of the inadequacy of Newstart payments on older workers. The facts are that:

  • There are more workers aged 55-64yrs receiving Newstart than any other age cohort (See Department of Social Security figures below)
  • Older workers spend longer on Newstart than any other age cohort (See Department of Social Security figures below).

 

The Government, the Opposition, and the Parliament must all agree there’s an urgent need to increase the Newstart Allowance. A commitment to a fair go in Australia demands it.

 

Older workers are too often excluded from the workforce simply because of their age. It’s a situation that won’t be changed by pushing them into poverty. Unemployment at the end of your working life means the loss of vital savings needed to avoid poverty in retirement and later life.

 

The inadequacy of Newstart is undermining the retirement income system. It’s pushing older workers into poverty as they head to retirement. This is especially the case for those who rent, who have not been able to accumulate significant savings and those facing high out-of-pocket health costs. The rate of Newstart has to be increased. It hasn’t been for decades. It’s time now to raise the rate.

 

An immediate increase to Newstart is a commitment to the wellbeing of older Australians. This election is the time to make this happen. The evidence is of the impact of inadequate Newstart payments is readily available, there’s no need for further review.

 

Our organisations support the Raise the Rate campaign, and call on all parties and interests in the Parliament to resolve this issue affecting hundreds of thousands of lives.

 

Newstart recipients by age group, December 2018 Australia

21-24

25-34

35-44

45-54

55-64

65 and over

Total

62,526

149,819

157,952

168,683

173,196

10,747

722,923

Data source Department of Social Services

 

Recipients of Newstart Allowance by age and average duration on payment (weeks). March 2018

Age Group

Female

Average duration on payments (weeks),

Male

Average duration on payments (weeks),

Total

Average duration on payments (weeks)

Under 25

45

46

46

25-29

101

105

104

30-34

118

129

125

35-39

134

143

139

40-44

150

158

154

45-49

168

167

168

50-54

185

178

182

55-59

191

185

188

60-64

187

188

187

65+

188

190

189

Total

151

144

147

Data source Department of Social Services

 

18 April 2019.