Promising steps in tonight’s Budget, but raising the rate is unfinished business

Anglicare Australia says tonight’s Federal Budget takes important steps on aged care and cost of living, but the job won’t be done until people on JobSeeker and other Centrelink payments are lifted out of poverty.

“Tonight’s Budget is handed down as more and more Australians are doing it tough. Living costs are spiralling. Essentials like food and transport are shooting up, and housing is more expensive than ever,” said Anglicare Australia Executive Director Kasy Chambers.

“That’s why Anglicare Australia has been calling on the Government to fund a boost to the pay packets of aged care workers. Instead of being rewarded for their vital work, many are forced to leave the sector to get the pay they deserve.

“Tonight, this Government has put its money where its mouth is by fully funding an aged care pay increase. This move recognises the importance of older people by recognising the crucial work that aged care workers do.

“People on Centrelink payments will also get a reprieve, with the Government scrapping ParentsNext. Instead of helping families doing it tough, ParentsNext targeted them with pointless obligations and punishments. We thank the Government for listening to those who were harmed by the program and moving to scrap it.

“We are also pleased that single parents will be able to get higher payments until their children turn 14. This will give a badly needed boost to parents stuck on lower payments that don’t recognise parenting as work.

“But even after tonight’s Budget, 2.3 million people on working age payments will still be stuck in poverty. That includes 840,000 children.

“JobSeeker and other Centrelink payments will still lag the poverty line by hundreds of dollars, with small increases being dwarfed by rent rises. Using data from Anglicare Australia’s Rental Affordability Snapshot, we have found that the new rate of JobSeeker will still lock people out of almost all rental listings. Just five rentals (0%) would be affordable out of 46,000 listings across the country.

“The small boost to Commonwealth Rent Assistance will make almost no difference. It will leave behind two in three people on JobSeeker and nine in ten people on Youth Allowance, who aren’t eligible for any help.

“The Government has made some promising steps tonight. But until it commits to lifting people on the lowest incomes out of poverty, these steps will be sabotaged before they can make a difference.”