Global accounting juggernaut KPMG has thrown its considerable weight behind a proposed increase to the Newstart welfare payment, telling a Senate Committee the languishing social safety net should be bumped up by $100 a week.
As noted by The Australian, the firm’s submission to the committee advocates for eligible single adults with no dependent children to receive $370 weekly, compared to the current rate of $279.50.
Such a change would mark the first ‘real’ Newstart increase in 25 years. While the payment is indexed to keep up with inflation, advocates say those minor adjustments are drastically outpaced by the cost of living, forcing recipients to live in financial desperation.
“Australia’s reputation as a caring and liveable nation is not enhanced in circumstances where many perceive the safety net to be set at a very low level,” the submission states.
The submission states raising the rate would not only help people keep a roof over their heads, but would allow them to lower “his or her level of concern about the material needs of the immediate family, better enabling the individual to concentrate on achieving high quality interactions in pursuit of a new job.”
To really hammer home the fact that yes, this is a good idea, KPMG said raising the rate by $100 a week would still make it “financially worthwhile for an individual to accept minimum-wage employment” while easing some of the harsher realities of unemployment.
Avoiding this same problem occurring again could be solved by tying the payment to at least half of the national minimum wage, the submission states.
This isn’t the first time KPMG has backed the idea of raising Newstart, and they’re not the only Big Four member to do so, either.
Last year, a Deloitte review said a $75-a-week bump would cost the economy $3.3b annually, but would see even more money flowing around the economy. That’s something the government pretty desperately needs.
The Senate Committee review comes amid an increased focus on the payment. In case you missed it, even National Party MP Barnaby Joyce has defied the Coalition line on the matter, calling for a Newstart hike.
The Senate Committee will have its first public hearing in Canberra on Wednesday, but you can check out some submissions here.
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