UnitingCare Australia will put the case today at the public hearing of the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee’s Inquiry into the Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Pension Reform and Other Budget Measures) Bill 2009.
In the legislation now before Parliament, the Government is proposing to increase the pension by $33 a week for singles and $10 a week for couples. However, in a concerning development, the Government is proposing to break the 30-year-old nexus between the aged pension and the single parent pension. Single parenting payments will not be increased.
Other groups to miss out on any increase in income support are people on unemployment benefits, youth allowance, and the disability support pension paid to people under 21 without children.
UnitingCare National Director Lin Hatfield Dodds said, “We’re pleased that the Government has responded to calls for the pension to be increased – but it is unacceptable that some groups of Australians have been left out. Despite talking about social inclusion, has the Government decided that people in some disadvantaged groups in society aren’t deserving of increases in income support?”
“In this economic downturn, single parents and unemployed people are doing it as tough as anyone. There should be no pecking order of disadvantage. They deserve equitable treatment,” she said.
UnitingCare Australia also calls for the government to monitor and report on demand for advance payments of income support, as one way to assess the adequacy of income support payments.
As well, UnitingCare Australia believes an independent process through which income support payments are set, indexed and reviewed needs to be established.
19 June 2009
Contact: Michael Brown, 0418 916 936