Shane Wright Economics Editor,
The West Australian
Updated May 4, 2012, 2:50 am
Single parents will pay the price of Treasurer Wayne Swan's battle to deliver a Budget surplus, losing thousands of dollars in benefits to force them into finding work.
The West Australian understands that as part of next Tuesday's Budget, Mr Swan will overhaul a measure introduced by the Howard government as an element of its welfare to work program.
Up to 100,000 people will be affected by the move, with single parents bearing the brunt of the cuts.
For a single parent with dependent children, the drop in welfare will be about $120 a fortnight.
Single parents or carers who foster children, educate their children at home or through distance education, have very big families or care for a disabled child will be exempt.
Eligible single parents currently receive a parenting payment of $648.50 a fortnight. The Newstart allowance for single parents is $529.80 a fortnight.
There is no difference between Newstart and the parenting payment for partnered parents, which is $442 a fortnight.
Under the Howard government, people receiving parenting payments from mid-2006 were transferred to Newstart once their youngest child turned six for partnered parents or eight for single parents.
It was a sharp crackdown on existing laws which enabled people to claim a parenting payment until their youngest turned 16.
However, people who were receiving the parenting payment before July 1, 2006, were shielded from the provisions.
In last year's Budget, Mr Swan sought to reduce the age cut-off for these shielded or "grandfathered" recipients to 12. That measure is still before Senate.
Next week, the Government will move to drop the distinction between the grandfathered welfare recipients and those who went into the system after mid-2006 in a move that will save the Government $700 million over the forward estimates.
Employment and Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten, while not confirming the details of the proposed change, said it was important to come up with measures that stopped generations of families being dragged into welfare and unemployment.
Affected parents will be able to get career counselling and child care assistance.
Wayne Swan saidAs a Labor Government, we believe that once children are at school, parents should be encouraged and supported back into the workforce
A job is essential to a family's wellbeing and helping them make ends meet.
Income support ideally should be a temporary measure - and should not be a disincentive for finding work.
And it is not just welfare recipients in the firing line. Up to 40 staff in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet will go in a move expected to save $9 million.