Heartbreaking moment Centrelink mum breaks down in tears as she begs Treasurer Jim Chalmers for help – pointing out a huge flaw in key parent budget policy
- Single mom challenges treasurer on Q&A
- She points to a week-long gap in her payments
- Teily explains that she will not pay the rent
An unemployed mother who depends on Centrelink benefits has burst into tears as she pointed out a critical flaw in Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ federal budget promises to parents.
Jessica Blowers explained on the ABC’s Q&A program Monday that she will have to stop the single parent payment when her daughter turns eight in August, leaving her unable to handle the impending rent increase.
Under current rules, single parents can claim parental benefit of $949.30 every fortnight until their youngest child turns eight. In September, the age limit for benefits will be raised to when the youngest child is 14, as part of Dr. Chalmers’ Budget.
Mrs. Blowers falls into a brutal rift and will lose payment for a month as her daughter’s 8th birthday is four weeks before the new rules come into effect.
To make matters worse, she also faces a rent increase from $900 every two weeks to $960 during that period.
An unemployed mother dependent on Centrelink benefits has burst into tears as she pointed out a critical flaw in Federal Budget Treasurer Jim Chalmers (pictured) promises to parents
‘What am I going to do? What is my choice other than doing my best to get a job so I can keep a house over my daughter’s head,” she begged the treasurer on Q&A.
“When I apply, I’m told that over 100 other candidates have applied for the same jobs – I’m not sure how to compete with 100 other people for one job.”
Ms Blowers said she ‘would like to know what measures the government has taken to bridge the gap where I and other parents will find themselves in similar situations’.
‘I have nowhere to go, because I pay my entire pension in rent. It’s comparable everywhere in Sydney.’
A sympathetic Dr Chalmers said that people like Mrs Blowers are ‘the reason why we raise the age from eight to fourteen’.
“This is something we really wanted to do in the budget, because we recognize that as a single mother you are under pressure,” he said.
But the treasurer was adamant that the new system could not be implemented until September 20.
“We tried to make that change as quickly as possible. We think September is the fastest we can do it,” he said.
Mrs Blowers falls into a brutal rift and loses parental benefit for a month as her daughter’s 8th birthday is four weeks away from the new rules taking effect
“I understand that means a few weeks for you to go from the current payment to JobSeeker and (after that) back to the single parental benefit.
“I’d like to avoid that if we could, but what we’re trying to do is provide this extra help… that you need and deserve. If we could avoid those few weeks we would, but September is the best we can do.’
In total, some 57,000 single parents – 90 percent of whom are women – will eventually benefit from the new scheme.
Previously, they would have been transferred to the lower JobSeeker rate when their youngest child turned eight.
“By the age of 14, children are typically used to secondary 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 parent’s benefit was for single people with children up to age 16.
But former Prime Minister John Howard, later supported by Julia Gillard, lowered the age to eight in a bid to get parents back to work.
Two advisory bodies urged the government to extend payment and eligibility criteria.
It is clear that reciprocal obligation requirements will still remain in place to encourage parents to return to work.
Speaking about the decision on Nova radio in Perth last week, the Prime Minister said he knew ‘first hand what it’s like growing up with a struggling single mother’.
“We want to care for single parents because we know the role they play in raising their children is such a priority for them and they deserve more support,” he said.