Dole's far too low: report
A Senate committee will this week hold public hearings on the adequacy of Newstart. Photo: Tamara Voninski
THE federal government has been urged to raise the dole amid warnings it is falling well behind other welfare payments.
A report prepared by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling for church welfare agencies says the government has been sitting on advice since 2009 that there were growing inequalities between the dole and other government allowances.
''The unemployment benefit in Australia is particularly low, especially for singles,'' says the report, to be released today.
''The Newstart allowance and Youth Allowance job seeker payment rates are indexed to the Australian Bureau of Statistics Consumer Price Index which is consistently lower than average household incomes growth and ensures that these households continue to slide further behind the rest of the community in terms of economic resources and opportunities''.
The 2009 Henry Review recommended job seeker allowances be raised, also arguing there was growing inequality between the dole and other government pensions.
Singles with no children who receive the Newstart allowance are eligible for $244 a week, plus a possible $60.10 a week in rental assistance. This compares with the average male weekly earning of $1298. After basics are paid for, Newstart recipients have an average of $22 a day discretionary money.
Workplace Minister Bill Shorten said today he sympathised with the plight of people on the Newstart allowance.
But, he said, while the government would consider calls to raise the payment, it would "stay where it is for the time being''.
''I'm not going to stand here and say I think life is easy for people on the Newstart allowance, because I don't think it is,'' Mr Shorten told reporters in Canberra.
''The Newstart allowance is incredibly low and would be difficult to live on.''
A Senate committee will this week hold public hearings on the adequacy of Newstart. The inquiry was sparked by Greens senator Rachel Siewert, who lived for a week on the equivalent of the dole.
''We know that over 60 per cent of people who receive Newstart are on the payment for more than 12 months,'' Senator Siewert said. ''Newstart remains more than $130 per week below the poverty line.''
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