Friday, 04 May 2012 20:14

A surplus on the back of disadvantaged people is a national shame (Budget 2012)

UnitingCare Australia National Director, Lin Hatfield Dodds said the Government’s decision to cut welfare payments to families in order to return a surplus in the Federal Budget is poor judgement.

The Government will cut parenting support for single parents whose children are older than eight years and will also reduce child support payments to couples with children.

Ms Hatfield Dodds said parents will be moved automatically from single parent payment to Newstart once their youngest child turns eight. This is a drop of $118.70 a fortnight in the base rate for single parents.

“The Government would do better to address the issues that make it difficult for single parents to get a job.

“The Government announced yesterday that it will expand the Jobs Education and Training program with more subsidised childcare places.

“Entry level jobs are scarce, especially in areas where unemployment rates are two to three times the national average. This is a complex issue that demands a comprehensive response.

“Single parents need long-term, reliable jobs, with family friendly hours, as close as possible to affordable housing and transport.

“Most available entry level jobs for young, single women are in retail or hospitality which means weekend and evening shifts. Access to quality out-of-school-hours child care is limited.

“There’s also a well documented lack of reliable, affordable transport options.

“In the face of spending cuts in the pursuit of a surplus and in the absence of budget measures that support job creation measures in areas with high unemployment, the proposed measure will simply see families with children in the critical middle years going through the work search hoops while surviving on the breadline.

“If this measure is about getting people back to work it won’t work. If this measure is about reducing government spending to produce a surplus the government would do better to target industry assistance and a put in place comprehensive minerals resource tax,” Ms Hatfield Dodds said.

The UnitingCare network provides social services to over 2 million people each year in remote, rural and metropolitan Australia. The network employs 35,000 staff and engages 24,000 volunteers.

Contact: Judith Tokley 0408 824 306