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Howard Government's king hit on working parents.



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MEDIA RELEASE

Senator Chris Evans Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Shadow Minister for Social Security

23 May 2005

HOWARD GOVERNMENT'S KING HIT ON WORKING PARENTS

The income of single parents who work will be slashed by up to $236 a fortnight under changes announced in the Howard Government's budget (See attached tables).

This king hit on working families flies in the face of the Government's rhetoric about providing single parents with an incentive to work.

The massive cut in family income for single parents comes as result of them being forced onto the new parents' dole from 1 July 2006, or when their youngest child turns six.

Because the parents dole has different conditions to the existing parenting payment, income support for many disadvantaged Australian families will cut out much sooner.

Under current arrangements, a single parent with four dependent children under the age of 16 who has $800 in private income gets $250.26 in parenting payment.

From 1 July 2006, a person in this situation will have their fortnightly benefits cut by $236, and will only get $13.80 a fortnight under the parents' dole.

These vulnerable families will be expected to survive on $813.80 a fortnight, instead of the $1050.26 that they are currently getting - a massive 22½% cut in their income.

This will result in many families - who are already suffering extreme financial hardship - being pushed over the edge and into poverty.

Labor's Shadow Minister for Social Security, Senator Chris Evans, said: 'This exposes the Howard Government's 'welfare reform' package as a fraud.

'It's not welfare reform to rip out over a fifth of a family's fortnightly income, especially when they are already doing it tough.

'The cuts are particularly cruel because despite all of the hurdles that they face, these parents are already doing what the Howard Government wants by working part-time to support their families.

'This massive cut in family income because of the parents dole does nothing to enhance their future job prospects, and will actually make it even harder to continue working.

'Single parents may be forced to leave the workforce altogether, unable to cope with the costly combination of child care fees, transport fares, and other expenses associated with going to work.

'This means that they will go back to being completely dependent on welfare, and slip into poverty, which is exactly the opposite of what should be happening.

'Instead of punishing working parents by taking food off their tables and pushing them deeper into the financial mire, the Government should applaud them for the sacrifices that they are already making in order to work.

'But these cruel cuts demonstrate that the Howard Government does not understand that welfare reform is about providing opportunities for people to move from welfare dependency to work, not penalising them by cutting their payments.'

For further information: John McNamara 0418 308 599