Raise the Rate & Anti-Poverty Week
Newstart needs an urgent increase this Anti-Poverty Week
Australia’s income support system was designed to help people when they are going through tough times. But Newstart is not working. The rate has not been increased in real terms for 25 years while living costs have gone through the roof.
The current rate of $40 per day is too low to give people the support they need to get by. Instead of supporting people, the current Newstart rate forces them into a cycle of debt, social isolation and humiliation that undermines their efforts and risks them slipping through the cracks into entrenched poverty.
Raising the rate will get Newstart working by allowing people to focus on building the skills they need to take the opportunities to get them through tough times. It will mean people can focus on their futures rather than having to be totally consumed with their current situation of financial crisis. Australia needs to raise the rate of allowances so people can focus on getting into employment rather than risk falling through the gaps into entrenched poverty.
In Anti-Poverty Week 2019, our network is supporting the Raise the Rate campaign to increase unemployment payments as the single most effective solution to reducing poverty in Australia.
Around one million Australians rely on the inadequate payments for unemployed people, Newstart and Youth Allowance. APW has estimated these include over 107,000 families with about 160,000 children who have a parent who are trying to survive on these terribly low payments. Nearly 4 in 5 of these are sole parents, mostly mothers. Over 40% of people receiving Newstart are aged over 45 years, nearly one quarter aged over 55 years. Up to 40% have some form of disability and nearly 1 in 4 have a partial capacity to work. (DSS Demographics December 2018.)
ANU research published earlier in September tells us that households surviving on Newstart or Youth Allowance are twice as likely to be living in poverty as 25 years ago. In 2017, 4 in 5 households with Newstart or Youth Allowance as their main income were living in poverty after their housing was paid for, compared with less than 2 in 5 in 1993.
In late September we heard from Productivity Commission report Vulnerable Private Renters: evidence and options that 3 in 5 private renter households with people who rely on government pensions and allowances as their main source of income were in rental stress.
See also our Fast Facts on different aspects of poverty, including Poverty and Newstart, Poverty and Work and Poverty and Disability.
The ACOSS Messaging Guide and Stats for Raise the Rate and Anti-Poverty Week has more information.