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Plans to forcibly take income support payments to cover rent flawed policy: Greens

The Australian Greens will not support schedules in the Social Services Housing Affordability Bill that seek to give the Secretary of the Department of Social Services permission to take money directly from a tenant’s income support payments to pay for rent or property damage. 

“The Government has been on a warpath against vulnerable people seeking supports from our social safety net, and this is just the next instalment. The first two schedules of this Bill are going to make life harder for those struggling to get by and will demonise them for their need to access supports", Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said today. 

“Taking money directly out of someone’s income support payment for rent makes it more difficult for people to manage their money. We are very worried that for some people this could result in more homelessness and poverty despite what the Government says.

"The Bill can effectively take someone’s entire income support payment to cover overdue rent, how are people going to eat? Sometimes people with very low income (who are very good at managing their money) can’t pay rent because they have to pay for emergencies or food. 

“Damaged property can be as a result of domestic violence, to take money from someone’s income support to pay for this damage when they are struggling financially and may still be trapped in a violent relationship shows sheer callousness by the Commonwealth. 

“The bill also allows for the Department to dip in to the remaining 20 per cent cash that income support recipients have when forced onto the cashless welfare card. This could take the final strand of financial flexibility from people doing it tough and removes autonomy. 

“The Australian Greens will oppose the components of the bill that seek to further hurt and humiliate vulnerable Australians”.

You can read the Australian Greens dissenting report into theSocial Services Legislation Amendment (Housing Affordability) Bill 2017 here.

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