ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

Media release: Need combination of measures to get people off welfare and into work

27 August 2013

The ACT Council of Social Service called today for the Coalition to commit to increasing Newstart by $50/week and doubling wage subsidies (to a total of 20,000 places a year) in addition to implementing their policy of providing cash bonuses to people who move off welfare and into work.

“I note the measure announced today by the Coalition to provide cash bonuses to people who move off welfare and into work.  Many people who have been unemployed find work in relatively low wage industries, so any additional income would be welcomed by them and their families,” said Susan Helyar, Director of the ACT Council of Social Service.

“But cash bonuses once people get a job will only be useful if they are implemented in combination with effective support during the time when people are unemployed.

“Evidence from service providers, employers and people who have been unemployed is that a combination of measures are needed to increase peoples’ capability and opportunity to get and keep a job:

  1. Increase the maximum single rate of Newstart Allowance and other allowance payments (including Youth Allowance for young  people not living in the family home) by $50 per week
  2. Index payments so they keep up with general living standards.  Living in poverty stops people from getting ready for work and accessing the training and education needed to build the skills employers want.
  3. Increase payments to Job Services Australia providers for interviews, work experience, training and support for  jobseekers who are long-term unemployed to match the payments made to services supporting people at risk of long term unemployment
  4. Double the number of places in the Wage Connect program for people unemployed long term to at least 20,000  places per year

“The Canberra community is anticipating significant job cuts over the coming years, as public sector spending contracts, households become more cautious in their spending and the private sector responds to a slowing economy.  There is a real risk of increased long term unemployment. 

Ms Helyar concluded “ACTCOSS calls on all candidates in the Federal Election to commit to implementing the measures employers, economists, services and people who have been unemployed agree will be effective in moving people out of welfare and into work.”

For more information or comment please contact
Susan Helyar, Director, on 0448 791 987.