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Rudd budget must deliver social dividend

The Australian Greens today called on the Government to apply promised increases in the single pension rate to all pensioners and unemployed people (including single parents) in the May Budget.

"The Government should be listening to calls from community service providers to immediately raise rates of income support. People surviving day-to-day on the pension are already struggling, and this is only likely to get worse," said Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert today.

"While the Greens welcome the Government's commitment to raise the aged, carers and disability pension rate, we remain concerned that those who are currently unemployed or on a single parent pension will miss out on any rise to their payment rates."

"The Rudd Government seems to be applying a double-standard here, as the cost of living pressures are the same - as is the moral imperative to provide support. To leave the unemployed and single parents to fend for themselves in a time of increasing economic hardship is totally unacceptable, and will just lead to further social problems," said Senator Siewert.

"If Kevin Rudd gives his promised $30 per week to single aged pensioners but not the unemployed, this will extend the gap in income support to $100 per week. Both groups have to meet the same living costs, whilst in many cases it is the unemployed who have a greater need to seek housing that is closer to city centres and potential jobs , making their rents more expensive."

"We should be applying exactly the same indexation to all income support payments rather than letting the unemployed fall further behind the cost of living, just as we should provide more effective incentives to the unemployed to take up part-time work," said Senator Siewert.

"With a million Australians expected to be unemployed by next year and many working families now fearful for their futures, Mr Rudd needs to prioritise the social dividend in this budget, and not abandon their traditional supporter base," she concluded.

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