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Thursday, 9 December 1971
Page: 4560

Mr Enderby asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:

(1)   In relation to his answer to Question No. 4120 (Hansard, 2nd November 1971, pages 2880-1) regarding social welfare claims received and payments made in Canberra during the last 5 years, was the increase in the number of claims received between 1966-67 and 1970-71 attributable to the increase in population during the period or was it due to other reasons.

(2)   If it was due to other reasons, what were they.

(3)   What was the percentage increase in total payments between the years 1966-67 and 1970-71, and what were the reasons for the large increase.

(4)   Were any of the total amounts paid between the years 1966-67 and 1970-71 used for the alleviation of financial hardship in respect of high rents, overcrowding, inability to find suitable housing, unmarried mothers having to seek private accommodation and inability to maintain hire purchase payments and payments on motor cars which were given as some of the most common reasons by persons applying for distress housing in Canberra as indicated in his answer to Question No. 4408 (Hansard, 2nd November 1971, pages 2889-90).

(5)   If so, what sum was spent for each of these reasons.

(6)   Can he give details of how the sum of $53,226 paid out as Welfare benefits in Canberra in 1970-71 was spent.

Mr Hunt - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   and (2) The number of claims for Social Welfare Benefits received in the Australian Capital Territory in 1970-71 (1,749) as compared with 1966-67 (1,352) had increased by 29.4 per cent. During the same period the mean population of the

Territory increased by 37.6 per cent. It might be assumed, therefore, that the increase in the number of claims for benefit was attributable to population increase.

(3)   The increase in total Social Welfare Benefit payments between 1966-67 ($16,466) and 1970-71 ($53,226) amounted to 223.3 per cent. As well as accounting for the higher number of benefits paid in each succeeding year, the increases in the annual amounts paid were due to various upward adjustments in the scale of benefits. In 1966 a typical recipient, a deserted wife with dependent children, received cash assistance at the rate of $26.50 per fortnight irrespective of the number of children. From July 1968 the benefit scale was aligned with the rates of pensions and benefits paid by the Department of Social Services. In June 1971 the benefit rate in respect of, for example, a deserted wife with four children and no other income was $70.00 per fortnight.

(4)   and (5) Social Welfare Benefits are intended primarily to help people awaiting statutory aid, such as deserted wives with children, or persons who are unable to qualify for Commonwealth pensions or benefits and for various reasons cannot support themselves and their families. The payments are meant to meet subsistence! needs and are not specifically designed to cover costs such as those incurred through high rents, hire purchase payments, etc.

(6)   The total amount of $53,226 paid in Social Welfare Benefits in the Australian Capital Territory in 1970-71 was distributed as follows:


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