Social Services Legislation Amendment (Budget Repair) Bill 2015 to the Community Affairs Committee.

Submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs Legislation:

NCSMC welcomes the Senate referring the matter of proposed spending cuts and its impacts, known as the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Budget Repair) Bill 2015 to the Community Affairs Committee.

 

Overview of Recommendations:

1. The Pensioner Education Supplement (PES) provides financial assistance with the ongoing costs of full-time or part-time study in a secondary or tertiary course at an educational institution as approved by the Australian Government.  The supplement is paid to people who are studying, including Disability Support Pensioners, Parenting Payment Single recipients, carers and widows.  Single Parents on Newstart gained access from 1 January 2014.

It is counter-intuitive to remove any assistance that has a possibility to overcome the stated barriers and provide a long term benefit for families who are trapped in a cycle of hardship.

 

2. The Education Entry Payment assists with education expenses and is paid once a year to eligible recipients.  It is paid at the rate of $208 per annum. The Education Entry Payment supports eligible people returning to study.  Welfare Rights estimate that around 90,000 people benefit from receiving this assistance each year.

Again, this measure can only be described as counter-intuitive as it will remove assistance that can provide a qualification, which can benefit families trapped in a cycle of hardship.

 

3. An obvious flaw in our current social security system is the inadequacy of the ‘income free thresholds’, most notably the Newstart income free threshold.

Currently, once the youngest child turns 8 years of age, recipients of the Parenting Payment Single will be forced from this frugal payment and onto Newstart, an allowance which sits below the poverty line.  Families who were in paid work and forced onto Newstart continue to report to NCSMC that they incurred un-recuperated losses of up to $140 per week due to the already inadequate income free threshold. Struggling families stated that this loss was the difference in maintaining a car, keeping a roof over their head and or putting food on the table. For example, a sole parent with three children can earn and retain $117.60 per week on Parenting Payment Single but when on Newstart it reduces to $51 per week. The current income free threshold is a contradiction to the statement that the ‘best way out of welfare is through paid employment’ as it is the low level thresholds which impedes paid work from being a financial gain.

Any proposal that seeks to further reduce the already inadequate income free thresholds needs to be rejected outright.

 

To read full recommendations and submission please click on link   Social Services Legislation Amendment (Budget Repair) Bill 2015

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