How long should single parents receive welfare payments? Until their child is 16? That’s how it is now. Or until their child turns eight? That’s how it will be soon.
Raiding single parent payments might have been the last thing you’d expect from a Labor Government, but then, nothing about this Government has been exactly run-of-the-mill.
And so, balancing that delicate budget has come to this: removing the single parent pension from mothers or fathers who don’t work, once their youngest child turns eight. Currently, the payment allows single parents to receive $648.50 a fortnight until their youngest child is 16.
It’ll save Treasurer Wayne Swan some $700 million as he strips the budget bare, but how much will it cost families?
Undoubtedly there are those single parents who could work once their children hit school. Many do and have over the past years and decades. But sweeping changes like these – set to affect 100,000 single parents – inevitably punish some who genuinely have no other option. They get caught in the ‘tough love’ net of governments who never seem to be able to decide whether they’re buying votes or showing voters they can be harsh and economical.
Maybe these jobless parents really can’t find work. Maybe they can’t get to work because they live regionally and can’t afford a car. Or petrol.
Those who lose the parenting payment can, of course, jump on the dole (the Newstart Allowance) but they’ll end up with $118.70 less per fortnight which might not sound like a lot but when you’re already trying to make ends meet, it just drags those ends a little further apart.
The Government, for it’s part, has protected parents of children with special needs and disabilities from the new measure but has told us all the mums and dads in work will be great for the economy.
No doubt. But it might not be great for single parents.
What do you think, is this a reasonable move or is it going too far?