Government should review benefit levels

The Government should review benefit levels, following official advice showing that a family of four on welfare is likely to have $72 less per week than what they need to provide for the core essential items, the Green Party says.

Advice provided by the Prime Minister’s department for the Budget 2015 included a budget breakdown for a family with two children on a benefit showing that they were $72 in the red each week without even paying for some basic costs.

“The Government is driving families into debt and threatening the welfare of children by keeping benefits so low that families can’t afford the essentials,” Green Party Social Development spokesperson Jan Logie said.

Officials advised in the Budget documents that there is “little or no margin for other spending, even with substantial government assistance, a very restricted lifestyle, and no debt or health issues. The beneficiary families in private rental are already in the red.”

“Today in Question Time in the House, the Minister was unable to say how a family on a benefit is able to survive,” Ms Logie said.

“If a family doesn’t have enough money to provide the essentials, children will suffer. Even when $72 in the red each week, the budget didn’t account for any health problems, penalty bank fees, car breakdowns, birthday presents, internet access, school trips, or debt.

“The Government needs to decide whether benefits should be enough for people to live on. The Government should review the benefit levels to ensure basic participation in life, as they have always intended to be.

“The Green Party revealed last week that nearly 60 per cent of all beneficiaries are in debt to WINZ, and that this is increasing under the National Government.

“It is not responsible or fair for the Government to force beneficiaries to borrow just to make ends meet.” Ms Logie said.