Newstart, the Clayton’s Age Pension

IN recent issues, THE VOICE has covered the plight of older people who have become unemployed and live on Newstart.

Newstart stands at $550.20 per fortnight for singles and $993.40 for a couple.

You could be forgiven for thinking that only a few older Australians have to rely on Newstart, but in reality the over-55s are the biggest category of Newstart recipients, making up 22 per cent of all recipients. That’s 185,197 people on 31 March 2018.

The smallest category is the youngest category. There are 143,423 Newstart (and Youth Allowance) recipients aged 16 to 24. That’s 17 per cent, significantly less than all other age groups.

 Newstart increasingly is becoming a Clayton’s Age Pension: the pension you have when you don’t have a pension.

And it’s getting worse.

The number of over-55s on Newstart is set to increase due to two factors.

First, the number of people over-55 as a proportion of the overall Australian population is increasing, which means more will spend at least some time on Newstart before they reach Age Pension age.

Second, the Age Pension age is now 65.5, but will have gone up to 67 by 1 July 2023. This means a longer wait for over-55s on Newstart.

More older people on the dole for longer.

With the number of over-55s on Newstart set to top 200,000 soon, Newstart has become an ageing issue. Newstart is 40 per cent less than the Age Pension. Even if you own your home, imagine paying rates or strata fees, let alone maintenance, on that sort of money.  Imagine how impossible it would be to manage if you don’t own your own home

The current campaign spearheaded by the Australian Council of Social Services to increase Newstart by $75 a week, would bring Newstart up to only 76 per cent of the Age Pension.

It is a good campaign though, and one CPSA wholeheartedly supports. Older Australians owe it to older Australians to support this campaign.