25 April 2024

Cost-of-living budget measures don’t go far enough: social welfare organisations 

Raising the Jobseeker rate by less than $3 a day isn’t enough to address poverty, experts say. Photo: iStock

Maya Pilbrow 

10 May 2023

Increases to welfare payments outlined in the federal budget will not do enough to alleviate poverty, Anglican social justice organisations say. 

Treasurer Jim Chalmers announced yesterday several measures in this year’s budget aimed at providing relief to rising costs of living. 

These include lifting the Jobseeker rate, increasing Commonwealth Rent Assistance and expanding access to support payments for single parents. 

Brotherhood of St Laurence executive director Travers McLeod said the budget demonstrated the government’s willingness to tackle issues affecting low-income households. 

“We’re pleased to see a shift in focus towards improving the lives of those who are facing poverty and disadvantage compared to the budgets of the past few years,” Mr McLeod said. “We hope it is the start of a sustained effort across multiple budgets to make poverty reduction a much greater national priority.” 

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BSL said in a media release they welcomed moves to reduce energy and healthcare costs and support the education and care workforce but said the government’s plan fell short of expert recommendations to address poverty.  

BSL said the Jobseeker hike of $40 per fortnight was well below the substantial increase recommended by the Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee and Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce. 

Anglicare Australia executive director Kasy Chambers said in a statement that an Anglicare survey had found 1 in 3 welfare recipients had as little as $7 per day to live on after paying rent. 

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Australian Council of Social Service chief executive Cassandra Goldie said in a statement the $2.85 per day increase to Jobseeker would still leave more than one million people in poverty. 

Dr Goldie said the planned increase was less than a sixth of what the EIAC recommended. 

Anglicare Victoria regional director Michael Oerlemans said the Jobseeker rate would total $51 per day for single people with the new increase. 

He said this was well below the poverty line of $69 per day, based on ACOSS inequality research. 

Mr Oerlemans said he was overall pleased with the direction of the budget but said more could be done. 

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