Australians are struggling to survive on unemployment benefits and sometimes forgo food and basic necessities to survive, according to a new study.
The ABC reports that researchers from the University of NSW calculated everyday living expenses against the Newstart allowance and found it falls short every time.
The researchers reportedly recommend the unemployment benefit for a single be raised $96 a week to $433, while an unemployed couple with no children should receive an extra $107.
The Department of Human Services says the average weekly payment for a person on Newstart is about $265, which is meant to help cover living expenses while they look for work.
In contrast, a person living on the age pension currently receives a base payment of about $404 a week.
While the amount is significantly more, the pensioner does not have job prospects to supplement the payment in future.
Peter Saunders, who led the University of NSW research, told the ABC the government should look into introducing a “minimum wage” type system for the payment to help people make ends meet.
“We should be looking at whether or not it’s time to introduce a mechanism, a bit like the minimum wage process, for Newstart allowance and possibly for other social benefits,” Professor Saunders said.
It comes after the Greens failed to get a bill to increase the Newstart and Youth Allowance payment by $110 dollars a fortnight, through the Senate this week.
Social Services Minister Christian Porter told The Australian that increasing the welfare payment hinder the effort to get people into the workforce.
“The myth peddled by the Greens that there are a large number of people living just on Newstart alone is exactly that — a myth,” Porter says.
“In any event, increasing Newstart … does not help move a single person from welfare to work.”