Unemployed people are languishing on the Newstart welfare payment for an average of nearly a year longer than they did in 2014, an analysis has revealed. Source: The Guardian.
Despite the Morrison Government’s claims Newstart is a “transition” payment and not a “wage replacement”, the analysis of income support data by The Guardian shows there is a fast-growing cohort who have been living on the historically low rate of the dole since Tony Abbott was prime minister.
And as Scott Morrison bats away calls for a $75 a week increase to the dole because it fails to cover basic living costs and stops people getting into work, there is no indication the problem is likely to turn around: in all but one quarter since 2014, the average time a person spends on Newstart has increased.
“I’m not surprised. I know how many people are applying for the jobs that I am applying for,” said Nijole Naujokas, a welfare campaigner who has been on Newstart long term after being knocked back for a disability pension.
“If you want people to have the best chance of getting a job, you need to make sure they have had a full meal and have a roof over their head.”
The Guardian collated the Newstart figures, which have been published in separate quarterly reports by the Department of Social Services since September 2014. The latest data, for March 2019, was released this month.
The analysis shows a person living on Newstart, now about $280 a week for a single person, could expect to spend 40 per cent longer on the dole than in September 2014. At March 2019, the average Newstart recipient had claimed the payment for more than three years (155 weeks), up from two years and two months (113 weeks) in 2014.
The casualties of that trend are the extra 75,000 people who have either received Newstart for between five and 10 years or for longer than a decade. While overall numbers of Newstart recipients have fallen, driven by a reduction in short-term recipients and those on the payment between one and two years, there are also 30,000 extra people who have been on Newstart between two and five years.
A spokesperson for Social Services Minister Anne Ruston pointed to figures showing the proportion of Australians receiving working-age income support payments had fallen to its lowest level in 30 years.
“But in accepting positive results we acknowledge that some indicators are showing there is more work to be done in some areas which the Government is determined to address,” the spokesperson said.