Changes to welfare slammed

EXPECTED changes to welfare payments affecting the youth and elderly would disproportionately impact Tasmanians, the head of the state's peak social services body has said.

Reports yesterday suggested the federal government planned to keep people younger than 25 on Youth Allowance rather than permitting a transition to the higher-paying Newstart unemployment benefit.

Currently, people aged 22 are eligible to move from Youth Allowance, which at most provides $414 a fortnight, to Newstart, which pays $510.

Another expected change is forcing school leavers to wait six months before applying for Youth Allowance.

Tasmanian Council of Social Services chief executive Tony Reidy labelled the upcoming changes ``very concerning indeed''.

He said reducing inadequate payments would further disadvantage young job seekers who already struggled to afford essentials, including water and electricity.

``The [Newstart] benefit is so small it is not enough for people to live on in any decent or respectable way,'' Mr Reidy said.

``The solution isn't to punish people . . . it is found in the development of workplace-based programs.''

Mr Reidy said the state's high dependency on government benefits, which sees a third of the state's population rely on welfare, would see it disproportionately affected.

Mr Reidy said raising the retirement age to 70 for people born after 1965 was equally worrying.

``We're going to be condemning a generation of older Tasmanians to poverty,'' he said.

``Many in labour-oriented professions won't be able to continue in those roles and won't be able to gain other employment.''


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