This piece in yesterday’s Australian about sole parents is a good example of statistics being twisted to look good.
Nearly 1600 single mothers forced to look for part-time jobs under the Howard Government’s welfare-to-work policy have found employment.Figures show that the Government forced 3724 parents off single parent benefit and on to the dole between July 1 and December 8 last year, telling them to find part-time work. Of those, the Government boasts that 1580 people, mainly women, found jobs, typically in sectors such as retail, financial services, hospitality and community services.
Sounds great doesn’t it? Of course, another way of describing the figures is that over 2000 single parents have had their incomes cut through being forced onto the dole and are now forced to live even further below the poverty line. Quite how cutting the already meagre income of a sole parent is supposed to help them find work is something the federal government has never explained, but for some reason this point rarely seems to be raised when the so-called ‘welfare to work’ changes are reported on.
Another thing the above figures don’t show is how many of those 1580 sole parents would have got a job anyway, regardless of having the government’s action in cutting their income and entitlements. It’s not as though all sole parents were previously incapable or unwilling to ever do paid again work under any circumstances.
I’m all for extra assistance and encouragement to help people back into the workforce. I agree that welfare dependency is not a good thing. I’m just not into forcing sole parents who can’t get a job into greater poverty in the meantime.