News National Newstart so low there’s no point setting a budget, senators told
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Newstart so low there’s no point setting a budget, senators told

The rate of Newstart is so low that many financial counsellors see no point in trying to help people on the payment set up a budget. Photo: AAP
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People on Newstart are on such little money they see no point in having a budget, senators have been told.

A Senate inquiry into the adequacy of Newstart – about $278 per week – has kicked off in Melbourne with various women’s advocacy groups.

“Our financial counsellors are severely stretched,” Stella Avramopoulos, chief executive of Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand, told the hearing on Wednesday.

“Many tell us there’s actually no point in helping a client on Newstart to do a budget because there’s not enough money whichever way they cut it.”

Good Shepherd sees two main types of women in financial distress – single parents and older women.

“The woefully inadequate level of Newstart is failing these women more than any others in the community,” Ms Avramopoulos said.

“Sadly, often a job is not the best form of welfare and Newstart is no longer a transitional payment for many people.”

There has been an increase in women using “predatory” payday loans from 177,000 in 2016 to 287,000 this year.

Of those, more than 40 per cent are single parents, Ms Avramopoulos said.

The Morrison government has resisted growing calls to increase the $40-a-day welfare payment.

Tasmania’s Liberal premier Will Hodgman and NSW’s deputy premier John Barilaro from the National Party are the latest conservative politicians to call on the federal government to increase the payment.

-AAP