INCREASING Newstart is an immediate reform that could begin to significantly reduce poverty and disadvantage in Australia and CEDA research shows it is in line with community expectations, according to CEDA chief executive, Melinda Cilento.
In support of the ACOSS Raise the Rate campaign and new economic analysis out today from Deloitte Access Economics in support of this campaign, Ms Cilento said CEDA’s June Community Pulse report and nation-wide poll showed 79 per cent believe the gap between the richest and poorest is unacceptable.
“Ensuring the benefits from Australia’s record run of economic growth are extended across the community is vital to Australia’s future prosperity,” she said.
“After 27 years of uninterrupted economic growth, a record among developed economies, around one in 10 Australians are still living in poverty, that is unacceptable.
“CEDA has supported increasing Newstart since 2015 and again called for an increase to payments following our April 2018 report, How unequal? Insights on inequality.
“Our community has an expectation that the benefits of growth should be fairly distributed and that we have appropriate safety nets. Action by the Federal Parliament on Newstart is overdue.
“Punitive social safety nets make it harder for people to get back into work, which is a poor outcome for the person concerned, for the economy and for our society.
“At just $278 a week, or around $40 per day, Newstart has not increased in real terms for over 24 years with recipients struggling to cover the basics like rent, utilities, health and transport costs.
“While the gap between the Pension and Newstart payments was relatively narrow in the 90s, the gap widened through the 2000s and Newstart today is only 61 percent of the Pension, or approximately $175 less per week.
“Inadequate Newstart payments entrench poverty and the cycle of disadvantage.
“It is evident that the current Newstart payments do not provide a reasonable standard of living.
“Increasing the payment would dramatically change the lives of more than 750,000 Australians – more than the combined populations of Canberra and Hobart.
“Raising the Newstart payment would ensure the payment scheme delivers on its purpose, rather than being an entry point into disadvantage.”