The Guardian 3 August, 2005

Payment cuts to hit families

Tens of thousands of families currently on Parenting Payments will be hit financially under the Howard government’s welfare-to-work changes. A new study by the National Welfare Rights Network (NWRN) shows that families currently receiving the single parent payment will lose between $22 and $68 per week under the scheme.

Around 90,000 new applicants will be worse off when the changes take place in July next year. Sole parents will lose their sole parent pension when a child turns six and be paid a much lower rate.

In addition to a cut in payments if there is a reconciliation with an ex-partner, there will also be a tougher income test if they have to go back to the Parenting Payment. The reality is that tens of thousands of parents have such changes of circumstances every year.

The NWRN warns that this will cause major financial disincentives for sole parents to risk extra work, or reconcile with a partner or start out with a new partner because they will lead to a loss in weekly income of up to $68.

"The welfare-to-work proposals will lead to real cuts in family income despite the government’s denial", said NWRN President Michael Raper.

He pointed out that sole parent families already live on the financial edge and that the cuts will lead to the necessity of making choices between such things as food, school excursions or paying the electricity bill.

The NWRN has put together a number of cameo examples from real life experience.

  • Marcia goes from Parenting Payment (partnered) to Parenting Payment (single) when her husband suddenly dies and her income drops from $238 per week to $216.

  • Kate’s loss of Parenting Payment (single) through re-partnering leads to a $22 per week cut in payments.

  • Claire suffers a loss of $68 per week through taking on extra work and going off payment for a period.

  • Rebecca gets $68 per week less for attempting a failed reconciliation with her husband.

  • Danni has a 14 percent income cut of $42 per week as a sixth birthday present for her son.

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