MOST Australians believe the Newstart Allowance for the unemployed is not enough. That’s the findings of a recent survey conducted by The Australia Institute.
Five hundred Australians were asked how much money a single adult needs to keep up with the current cost of living. People indicated that, on average, $454 per week is required. This is much more than the Age Pension, and nearly double the current Newstart amount.
Respondents indicated that a single unemployed adult should receive $329 per week, $84 more than what they actually get.
It is becoming increasingly well known that Newstart has fallen so low that it traps people in poverty.
People on the Pension are certainly doing it tough, but with Newstart increases only being indexed to CPI, it is far from keeping up with rising living costs.
Unlike the Pension, male total average weekly earnings are not taken into account.
The Government seems to have heard the public outcry for a rise, announcing a supplementary allowance for those on Centrelink allowances. This is to be paid as a lump sum, twice a year.
The trouble is that it only amounts to an extra $4 a week. This is a slap in the face, particularly when a one-way bus ticket to a job interview can easily cost more than that.
The only consolation is that this is at least a recognition that the payment is not enough. The supplement amount will be $210 a year for singles and $175 for members of a couple.
There is, however, some good news for newly unemployed people.
The Budget announcement included fairer liquid asset tests, so people will no longer have to use all their savings before being able to access Centrelink benefits.
The liquid asset test was almost doubled to $5,000 for singles and $10,000 for families.