Labor in revolt over welfare cuts
by: Patricia Karvelas
From: The Australian
May 12, 2012 12:00AM
LABOR MPs have warned the government is embarking on a harsh and unfair form of welfare reform by stripping single mothers of financial benefits and failing to provide enough help for them to get into work after they are forced on to the dole in January.
Three Labor MPs have warned Julia Gillard they believe the government has failed to give single mums the support they need to enter work, and the cuts on their income are too draconian without attaching a range of additional assistance to help them out of welfare dependence.
Federal MP Stephen Jones said he was "deeply troubled" by cuts to single-mother welfare benefits and it had failed the test he set for the reform -- that it would have "carrots" and incentives attached to it. "I am troubled by it. Of course our objective is to shift people off welfare payments and into paid work. But there's good ways of doing it and there are bad ways of doing it," he said.
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"Certainly cutting off or removing $60 a week from their household income, in my view, is not the way to go, unless you are putting in place measures which enable them to enter the workforce.
"In an electorate like mine the obstacles are a lack of jobs and a lack of transport.
"I'm still deeply troubled by it. The gap between the unemployment (payment) and other payments has grown too big."
Left powerbroker Doug Cameron said he was still concerned about the cuts to single mothers because he believed the entire welfare system was too tough. He said he would monitor the impact of the cuts on the mums and their capacity to keep supporting their children.
"I will continue to assess the impact of the cuts to the single-mother payments," he said.
"I want to make sure that people have the capacity to feed themselves and their kids.
"The whole welfare system is pretty tough and I think it is something that the Labor Party has to keep monitoring."
The government has decided to transfer single parents from the parenting payment to the Newstart Allowance when their youngest child turns eight, costing them about $120 a fortnight.
And for partnered parents, income support will end when their youngest child turns six.
Labor MP for Chifley, Ed Husic, said he was not opposed to radical welfare reform but he did not believe the government had provided enough help for single parents on the other side to get them into work. "You have to spend some money to save it in this area," he said yesterday.
"Childcare is only one part of the jigsaw. I think it is good to get people working and moving off welfare but you need more structural support to get people into that position.
"It's definitely something I'm keenly following up. I'm supportive of the intent, it's how we get there I'm concerned about."
The comments comes after The Australian revealed that 45 per cent of parents on the single-parent pension were already in paid work to support their families, despite the government's claim that they must be pushed on to the dole in January next year to get them into employment.
While the government thinks it is saving money, it may end up spending money in increased childcare rebates and childcare benefit allowances for the hours children will be forced into care.
The government is hoping to save close to $700 million across four years by pushing parents on the pension on to the dole when their child turns eight.
The government also maintains its motivation for the policy is to get more people working, a claim welfare groups contest.
(Source - The Australian - Viewable by subscription only)
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/nationa ... 6353386163
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