Heartbreaking moment Centrelink mum bursts into tears as she begs Treasurer Jim Chalmers for help – and points out a massive flaw in key Budget policy for parents
- Single mum challenges Treasurer on Q&A
- She points to a weeks gap in her payments
- Tearily explains she will fall short of rent
An unemployed mother who relies on Centrelink benefits has burst into tears while pointing out a crucial flaw in Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ Federal Budget promises to parents.
Jessica Blowers explained on the ABC’s Q&A program on Monday that she will be forced off the Single Parent Payment when her daughter turns eight in August, leaving her unable to cope with an impending rent increase.
Under current rules, single parents can claim the Parenting Payment of $949.30 a fortnight until their youngest child turns eight. In September, the age limit for the payment will rise to when the youngest child is 14, as part of Dr Chalmers’ Budget.
Ms Blowers falls into a cruel gap and will lose the payment for a month as her daughter’s 8th birthday is four weeks before the new rules kick in.
To make matters worse, the she will also be hit with a rent increase during that period from $900 a fortnight to $960.
An unemployed mother who relies on Centrelink benefits has burst into tears while pointing out a crucial flaw in Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ (pictured) Federal Budget promises to parents
‘What am I going to do? What is my choice, other than I am doing my best to get a job so that I can keep a house over my daughter’s head,’ she pleaded with the Treasurer on Q&A.
‘When I’m applying for the jobs, I am faced with being told that more than 100 other candidates have applied for the same jobs – I’m not sure how I am supposed to compete against 100 other people for one job.’
Ms Blowers said she ‘would like to know what measures the government has in place to bridge the gap that I and other parents in similar situations will find ourselves in’.
‘I don’t have anywhere to go because I am paying my entire pension in rent. Everywhere else in Sydney is comparable to that.’
A sympathetic Dr Chalmers said that people like Ms Blowers were ‘the reason why we are lifting the age from eight to 14’.
‘This is something we were really keen to do in the Budget because we recognise the pressure that you are under as a single mum,’ he said.
But the Treasurer was adamant that the new system could not be introduced anytime sooner than September 20.
‘We’ve tried to do is bring that change in as soon as possible. We think September is the soonest that we can do it,’ he said.
Ms Blowers falls into a cruel gap and will lose the Parenting Payment for a month as her daughter’s 8th birthday is four weeks before the new rules kick in
‘I understand that that means a few weeks for you going from the current payment onto JobSeeker and (then) back onto the single parenting payment.
‘I would love to avoid that if we could, but what we’re trying to do is provide this extra assistance … that you need and deserve. If we could avoid those couple of weeks, we would, but September is the best we can do.’
In total, some 57,000 single parents – 90 per cent of whom are women – will eventually benefit from the new scheme.
Previously they would have been moved onto the lower JobSeeker rate when their youngest child turned eight.
‘By age 14, children have typically settled into high school and need less parental supervision, and single parents are in a much stronger position to take on paid work,’ Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said when the policy was announced.
Historically, the single parents payment was for singles with children aged up to 16.
But former prime minister John Howard, supported later by Julia Gillard, slashed the age to eight in an attempt to encourage parents back into the workforce.
Two advisory bodies urged the government to extend the payment and the eligibility criteria.
It is understood mutual obligation requirements will still remain in place to continue to encourage parents to return to the workforce.
The PM spoke about the decision on Nova radio in Perth last week, saying he knew ‘firsthand what it’s like to grow up with a single mum doing it tough’.
‘We want to look after single parents because we know that the role that they play in raising their children is such a priority for them and they’re deserving of more support,’ he said.
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