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Minister hides benefit cut in `good news'

16 March 2006

Minister hides benefit cut in `good news' smokescreen

A benefit cut is hidden in changes to benefits and student allowances announced this week, Greens Social Development Spokesperson Sue Bradford says.

"Social Development and Employment Minister David Benson-Pope issued the changes in a statement headed `Minister Has More Good News For April 1'.

"It is not good news for desperate people needing to go on a special benefit after April 1, because the special benefit is about to be cut," Ms Bradford says.

"I'm disappointed that the minister not only did not spell out the implications in his statement, but hid them with his 'good news' spin. While the special benefit is replaced by a temporary additional support (TAS) payment, this new payment has much more restrictive criteria," Ms Bradford says.

Under TAS no lump sum payments are allowed, no matter how severe the hardship; a severe limit on paying expenses will be imposed; the system will be much more inflexible and restricts the ability to take account of individual circumstances; in most cases the first $20 of hardship must be met by the beneficiary and the payment will be limited, usually, to a maximum weekly payment of 30 percent of the main benefit a person receives.

"I urge people in desperate living situations to apply for the special benefit as quickly as possible; ie within the next two weeks before April 1, as those already on a special benefit will have their entitlements maintained," Ms Bradford says.


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