It’s time for Governments to stop playing musical chairs with the benefits system writes Cassandra Goldie from ACOSS.
Well-crafted employment participation policies are a win for everyone – they lift some of the poorest people out of poverty, bolster the paid workforce, and in the long run they save the Government money.
With unemployment falling, this is a very good time to invest in policies to boost the job prospects of people on social security payments who have been sidelined in the jobs market up until now, such as long term unemployed people, Indigenous people, people with disabilities, sole parents, and people of mature age. We put this to the Government late last year and were very pleased that the Prime Minister made employment participation a priority for the Budget in her CEDA speech in February.
ACOSS was looking for three things in the Budget: investment in the job capacity and skills of people excluded from the labour market, improved employment incentives, and to lift the incomes of those living in the deepest poverty.
The vast majority of people of working age on income support today are out of paid work because they have a disability, are caring for a young child or person with a disability, or are unemployed long-term. Around half of unemployed people have less than Year 12 qualifications. That’s why a strong up-front investment in skills training, employment services, and child care and respite care is essential to support people ‘over the line’ into a secure job. Encouragement and support for employers to take on people they haven’t considered in the past – for example through wage subsidies – is also vital. Past policies, which have been strong on activity requirements but weak on capacity building, have failed for want of this kind of investment.
SOURCE: Cassandra Goldie, ACOSS, “Give and take in Budget for people on social security payments”, Australian Policy Online, 26 May 2011