Jobseekers Urgently Need Welfare Reform Phase 2

13 February 2002 - The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) released its Federal Budget submission, calling for urgent Government action to commit itself to the next phase of welfare reform. ACOSS President Andrew McCallum said:

There are 715,000 people reliant on social security benefits who need more assistance to help them break back into the labour market. More than half of these - around 385,000 people have been reliant on unemployment benefits for more than 12 months."

"It is a very competitive job market and we need to target more resources to disadvantaged jobseekers - especially in times of economic uncertainty. They need skills development and experience in a real job to make them job-ready."

"ACOSS proposes the following key measures for the next phase of welfare reform:
* A new participation allowance for jobseekers to cover the extra costs of applying for jobs and traveling to look for work or for approved education and training courses - $215 million.
* A reduction in the high effective tax rate of up to 80% that confronts social security recipients who have part-time work - $51 million.
* Extra funds for Centrelink to reduce the caseload of staff (estimated at up to 1000 clients) and provide better assistance to jobseekers - $25 million,
* A boost to the Job Network so that it guarantees all jobseekers who are long-term unemployed more effective intensive assistance - $150 million.

"Besides our welfare reform proposals, other major recommendations of the ACOSS Federal Budget submission to build a fairer and more inclusive Australia include:
* Reducing Indigenous disadvantage and promoting reconciliation - $158 million
* National affordable housing and homelessness strategies - $254 million.
* Responding to demand for health and community services - $580 million.
* Addressing rural and regional disadvantage - $276 million.

"These ACOSS proposals are substantially funded by our revenue recommendations which include proposals to close tax loopholes that are both economically inefficient and unfairly favourable to high income eamers. Some of our key revenue-raising proposals include:

* Curbing the use of trusts to unfairly shelter personal income from tax - $1 billion
* Eliminating artificial income splitting between spouses - $150 million
* Axing the Private Health Insurance Rebate - $1 billion

*All costings are for the first year - of their implementation.