Justice, Opportunity and Shared Wealth for all South Australians

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Cost of living pressures bite hardest on unemployed: Report asks Steven Marshall to call for increase to Newstart

SACOSS’s latest Cost of Living Report released today focuses on the struggle of South Australians living on the Newstart and other basic income support payments, and calls on SA Premier Steven Marshall to add the state government’s voice to the chorus of calls to increase these inadequate social security payments.
The SACOSS report, which includes examples of household budgets of five people trying to live on Newstart, finds that: 
69,923 South Australians receive the Newstart payment, 78% of whom receive the single rate
Payment for a single person is $273 per week, or just under $40 a day
The purchasing power of Newstart has declined leaving recipients worse off than those unemployed 20 years ago
The value of the Newstart payment has declined in comparison to the general standard of living, from 24% of the average wage in South Australia in 1998 to 19% now
The $75 a week increase in Newstart and other base allowances as called for by ACOSS’ Raise the Rate campaign would inject $222m per year into the South Australian economy – equivalent to a little more than the annualised cost of purchase of 1 submarine* 
SACOSS CEO, Ross Womersley says, “The evidence in our report clearly shows that the current level of Newstart is inadequate to ensure a decent, healthy standard of living so that people can find employment and participate in society.”
“This situation is getting worse as the value of payments has been going backwards in real terms and relative to the rest of the population.”
“It is also clear from the examples of household budgets in our report that it does not matter how careful and how good a money-manager you are, the income level is simply not enough to live on.”
“While Newstart is a federal government payment, we are calling on Premier Marshall to represent the needs and interests of SA's poorest households and add his government’s voice to the chorus of public calls to increase Newstart. This chorus includes business leaders, trade unions, community groups, 11 SA local councils and an ex-Liberal Prime Minister – and of course, the voices of the unemployed themselves. It should include our state government.” 
“It is the right thing to do to for our poorest people, it will relieve pressure on state government anti-poverty services, and it will provide an economic stimulus to low income regions in our state”
*See our report for more on the submarine comparison. But in brief we’re making the argument that A) where there is an identified need we are prepared to find the money for national security and we could do the same for social security and B) The Federal Government expenditure on submarines is widely recognised to be of great economic importance to South Australia and so too would be the investment in South Australians on Newstart.
Published Date: 
Monday, 6 August 2018