Centrelink Bundaberg
Centrelink Bundaberg Brian Cassidy

Increase the dole to boost Bundy economy by millions: Report

LIFTING Newstart allowances by $75 a week would generate a multi-million dollar economic boost for the Bundaberg region, a new report claims.

The Australian Council of Social Service has urged the government to immediately raise payments for the region's 5381 Newstart recipients.

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A national study into welfare payments from accounting giant Deloitte - commissioned by ACOSS - has seen calls grow louder to raise Newstart allowances for the first time in 24 years.

The report shows that while disposable incomes in Bundaberg are predicted to go up by $235 in this coming financial year, compared to the 2017-18 period, consumption costs will rise by $259.

The report's author David Rumbens yesterday said though the government would have to spend more, this money would be recouped as recipients would spend locally, boosting the region's economy and driving new growth.

A $75 increase would deliver an additional $4.72 million economic boost to the Bundaberg region, the report says.

Labor's candidate for Hinkler Richard Pascoe yesterday said he felt the Newstart allowance payment was too low.

Mr Pascoe said Labor had committed to a review of Newstart and related payments.

"We need to do this properly," Mr Pascoe said.

Hinkler MP Keith Pitt said the best form of welfare was a job.

"The Newstart Allowance is there as a safety net for people who require financial assistance while unemployed and looking for work," Mr Pitt said.

"There are a range of government-funded programs to help people back into work, but ultimately, the best form of welfare is a job."

ACOSS chief executive Cassandra Goldie is demanding action.

"What we're talking about is a group of people who have been deeply affected by the refusal of successive governments to index allowances in the same way we've been indexing the aged pension," Ms Goldie said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in July, while he was treasurer, that an increase to payments was not on the agenda.

"I support getting Australians off welfare and into work," Mr Morrison said at the time.

Ms Goldie said the $75 a week figure had been carefully researched and was about dealing with the "injustice" that has been created.

The Greens last week introduced a bill to raise the Newstart rate.