The Australian Council of Social Service has made a last-minute plea to the Prime Minister to spare sole parents from budget cuts worth up to $60 per week.
A letter delivered on Friday describes as ''deeply disturbing'' reported plans to push a further 100,000 sole parents off parenting payments and on to Newstart when their children turn eight.
''ACOSS has supported your government's commitment to a surplus for good reasons,'' council chief executive, Cassandra Goldie, writes in the letter. ''However, a surplus is not an end in itself. I urge you not to proceed with payment cuts to parents on income support looking for paid work.''
Australians who have become sole parents since 2006 already lose the parenting payment when their children turn eight. But a ''grandfathering'' provision legislated by the Howard government means that the families who were already on the payment in 2006 get to keep it until their youngest child turns 16, whenever that child is born.
A government source said:''It means a family could still be grandfathered in another 16 years time if they have another child tomorrow.
''An otherwise identical family living next door with a child born the same day would only get the payment for eight years.''
In her letter, Dr Goldie says the proposed January 2013 shift to Newstart would do ''nothing to improve people's job prospects''.
''These parents are already required to seek part-time employment. It will only make these families poorer, which means they are less able to have the stability and resources they need to help them find a paid job,'' she said.
The single parenting payment is worth up to $46 a day.
Newstart for a single parent is worth only $38 a day.
In a separate statement released yesterday, more than 100 organisations call for the government to lift Newstart, arguing it ''is simply not enough for people to live on and is hindering their efforts to find paid work''.