The next Australian Government could help lift a million people out of poverty by implementing several simple and affordable changes to our tax and welfare system, according to modelling released by the St Vincent de Paul Society (SVDP).
These strategies, analysed in a new report A Fairer Tax and Welfare System, by the Australian National University (ANU) Centre for Social Research and Methods, would only marginally affect the most well off and have no net impact on the nation’s Budgetary position.
The report examines three options for helping families and individuals at risk of deep poverty and financial stress. Every day the Society’s members hear stories about housing and homelessness concerns, low incomes and job insecurity, and challenges faced by refugees and First Nations people. These issues are covered in the Society’s newly released election statement, A Fairer Australia.
All three options increase Commonwealth Rent Assistance by 50 per cent.
The ‘low’ option increases JobSeeker by $150 per fortnight. The ‘medium’ option increases JobSeeker, Disability Support and Carer Pensions by $200 per fortnight, and increases the Parenting Payment (Single) to a new JobSeeker rate for single parents ($886 per fortnight).
The ‘high’ option increases JobSeeker by $436 per fortnight, Disability Support and Carer Pensions by $200 per fortnight, Parenting Payment to the new JobSeeker rate and Family Tax Benefit Part A by 20 per cent ($40 per fortnight for children under 13 years).
‘The Society strongly supports the ‘high’ option identified in the ANU report,’ said Claire Victory, SVDP National President.
‘This would help to lift one million people out of poverty and restore their dignity, and in many cases
help them move towards re-entering the workforce.
‘Far too many Australians are struggling to put food on the table, pay the rent in often unsuitable housing, and ensure that their children get the start in life they deserve. Increasing social security improves health, wellbeing and social outcomes, and also benefits the economy – so it’s an all round win-win.
‘The recent $4.00 a day increase to JobSeeker will make no impact on poverty and the 2022 Federal Budget contained no long-term solution to the nation’s chronic poverty,’ Ms Victory added.
According to the report’s key author, Associate Professor Ben Phillips, the ANU modelling highlights strategies to reduce poverty without running up national debt or requiring anyone to make significant sacrifices.
‘Our modelling shows you could make a massive difference to the lives of the bottom 20 per cent of income earners while only making a minimal change to the earnings of the top 20 per cent,’ Assoc Prof Phillips said.
‘Under our proposed changes the highest income earners would still retire with very healthy superannuation savings and continue to benefit strongly from their other investments. But up to a million people would get their heads above the poverty line.’
St Vincent de Paul Society will present its suite of election policy papers to sitting MPs and the half Senate, as well as other candidates when they are announced.
‘We’ve put a lot of work into developing compassionate and practical policies that we hope will start the conversation about how a fairer Australia can be achieved,’ Ms Victory said.
With thanks to St Vincent De Paul Society.