Parent payment cuts will send people to welfare

MORE families in the Hastings are expected to turn to welfare groups for help in the wake of parenting payment changes.

And the federal government measure will hurt those who can least afford it, the welfare sector says.

The Salvation Army’s Major Brett Gallagher said the changes would be another hit, especially for single parents.

He expects financially struggling parents will seek assistance across the board from food to electricity and petrol.

“It’s quite a reasonable drop those parents with kids at school are going to lose,” he said.

The changes mean parenting payments will stop for single parents when their youngest child turns eight.

Partnered parents will lose the payment when their youngest child reaches the age of six.

Most will be transferred to unemployment benefits.

Major Gallagher said The Salvation Army was well placed to deal with the increased demand in the short-term.

“But the challenge will be if they don’t increase Newstart in the May budget we would then start to struggle [to meet the demand],” he said.

“We would be very rapidly using up our reserve.”

The Australian Council of Social Service chief executive officer Dr Cassandra Goldie said single parents would see a cut of between $60 and $110 a week under the changes.

“This will have a devastating impact on single parent families and their children,” Dr Goldie said.

“These families are already struggling as they live below the poverty line.”

The changes spell the end of two sets of rules for people receiving parenting payments.

A spokesperson from the federal government’s Department of Human Services said parents affected by the changes would continue to receive family assistance payments and supplementary payments for which they were eligible.

“The changes are also about encouraging parents to engage with the workforce earlier (rather than when their youngest child turned 16, under the previous rules) and reducing their dependence on social security,” the spokesperson said. More than 300 staff have been working since October to contact about 78,000 parents affected by the changes on January 1.

The department advises parents to contact them if their circumstances change so their most appropriate payment can be assessed.

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