TENS of thousands of single mothers will be forced on to
the dole at the same time the Gillard government is stripping $200
million from the job agencies that will be charged with finding
them work, the nation's chief job agencies have
The Australian can also reveal that the Gillard government has a
plan to deny single parents the Pensioner Education Supplement,
which gives them a top-up payment worth $32 a week if they are
studying to get new skills.
A spokesman for Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten said
last night that if a parent was in the middle of a course, they
would be allowed to keep the supplement until they finished, but
under the new rules the supplement would cease and parents would be
forced on to the dole.
There are 26,780 single parents receiving the PES, half of all
people who receive the allowance.
The peak body representing the nation's job agencies, the
National Employment Services Association, said last night it was
alarmed that it was expected to help more people into work while
there was less money for the system.
NESA chief executive Sally Sinclair told The Australian now was
not the time to be taking money out of the job-placement
"It's not a time to reduce investment in services," Ms Sinclair
said. "Even if you didn't have additional people, like single
parents, coming through, we know that although the overall headline
statistics indicate strength in the economy, there is a wide
disparity across different labour markets and there's a significant
disparity among young unemployed people as well.
"There shouldn't be any reduction in services at this time."
Welfare Rights president Maree O'Halloran said if the Newstart
Allowance for jobless people was an adequate support payment, the
government's push to put 147,000 more single-parent families on to
it would not be of such great concern.
"However, the Newstart Allowance is so low that these families
will face budgets in the red," Ms O'Halloran said.
She said new family payments and the new cost-of-living
Supplementary Allowance for welfare recipients would not make up
for the "payment cut and loss of earnings-free area that the
parenting payment provides".
"Around 11,400 single parents seeking a better future for their
families through education and training will face a double-whammy
because the $32-a-week Pensioner Education Supplement is not
available under Newstart Allowance," Ms O'Halloran said.
"The budget contained a number of good measures both on the
expenditure and savings side of the ledger. Many single-parent
families, however, will lose out." Mr Shorten's spokesman said
jobseekers had access to employment and job-search support through
the government's national employment services system, Job Services
Australia, including access to financial assistance from the
Employment Pathway Fund where deemed appropriate by their provider.
"For jobseekers with disability, Disability Employment Services
provide specialist support and assistance to help these jobseekers
to find and maintain meaningful employment.
"Single-principal carers who transfer to Newstart Allowance will
be able to retain access to the Pensioner Concession Card, which
provides access to valuable core concessions."