Senate Committee finds Government must permanently increase income support

The Australian Senate Community Affairs References Committee has issued its report on the “Adequacy of Newstart and related payments and alternative mechanisms to determine the level of income support payments in Australia”.

 

The Committee recommends that that the JobSeeker (formerly Newstart), Youth Allowance and Parenting Payments be increased once the Coronavirus Supplement is phased out.

 

ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie said, “The Senate heard from people skipping meals, forgoing medication, turning off their fridges to save electricity and struggling to keep a roof over their head.

 

“This increased JobSeeker payment has come about thanks to people bravely sharing their stories about trying to get by on the old paltry rate of Newstart.

 

The Senate Committee recommends: “once the Coronavirus Supplement is phased out, the Australian Government increase the JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance and Parenting Payment rates to ensure that all eligible recipients do not live in poverty.”

 

ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie continued, “The Government’s own modelling shows that up to 1.7 million people are expected to be unemployed in September [2020].

 

“The increased JobSeeker payment must be extended. Cutting people’s already low incomes, especially during the national recovery effort, would only take the economy backwards.

 

“Beyond the current crisis, we must ensure that our social security system provides the support that people need to get by, including single parents, people with disability, carers and those struggling with the cost of rent.

 

“Now more than ever, we are seeing why we need to have a decent social safety net in place at all times.”

 

Key recommendations included:

 

Recommendation 1

2.47 The committee recommends the Australian Government set a national definition of poverty. The Government should immediately commence work in collaboration with academic experts and the community sector to determine this definition.

 

Recommendation 2

2.128 The committee recommends the Australian Government immediately undertake a review of the income support system to ensure that all eligible income support recipients do not live in poverty.

 

Recommendation 3

2.132 The committee recommends the Australian Government undertake a review of the adequacy of the Commonwealth Rent Assistance program, to ensure it significantly improves rental affordability and reflects fluctuations in rents and local rental market circumstances.

 

Recommendation 5

3.6.2 The committee recommends the Australian Government introduce measures to further reduce out-of-pocket medical costs for low-income earners and income support recipients.

 

Recommendation 25

7.117 The committee recommends the Australian Government establish a Social Security System Expert Group led by independent experts charged with periodically examining the adequacy of the social security system and reporting to Parliament to ensure the Australian Government meets its responsibilities.

 

Recommendation 27

7.122 The committee recommends that once the Coronavirus Supplement is phased out, the Australian Government increase the JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance and Parenting Payment rates to ensure that all eligible recipients do not live in poverty.

 

Read the Senate Inquiry full list of recommendations at: https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Community_Affairs/Newstartrelatedpayments/Report/section?id=committees%2freportsen%2f024323%2f27650

 

Read the Senate Inquiry Report at: https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Community_Affairs/Newstartrelatedpayments/Report

 

30 April 2020.