New social security commission bill and single parent review to strengthen safety net

21 August 2018

On 20 August, 2018 two private members bills were introduced into Parliament to improve the standard of living for people receiving social security payments.

Cathy McGowan MP introduced a bill to establish a social security commission that will advise on minimum payment levels and Andrew Wilkie MP introduced a bill to review the impact of removing Parenting Payment Single from single parents when their youngest child turns eight.

We welcome both of these bills.

It’s vital that the social security commission guides Parliament to ensure payments are adequate and indexation settings are appropriate so people are not disadvantaged. Newstart hasn’t increased above CPI in 24 years. The Youth Allowance is only indexed to CPI and doesn’t cover basic living costs.

The review of Parenting Payment Single should reveal the impact a $150 fortnightly reduction in support has on single-parent families when their youngest child turns eight.

Sole parents are a particularly vulnerable group. More than 1 in 3 are in the lowest income bracket and 82 per cent of sole parents are women.

We strongly urge that women’s experiences are taken into account during the review. Changes to income support payments, such as moving sole parents from Parenting Payment Single onto Newstart, have pushed more women into poverty. Up until 2005, the sole-parent poverty rate was around 19%, but this jumped up to 23.9% in 2007.

These new bills are highly commended as our social security system has been failing people for too long.