QCOSS undertakes research each year to examine cost of living pressures for low-income households in Queensland and produces a Living Affordability Report detailing our findings. This work is guided by our member organisations through the QCOSS Living Affordability Policy Network. This submission draws on findings from the Living Affordability Report and focuses on the eligibility criteria for the Disability Support Pension (DSP).
Our research found:
- The number of people on JobSeeker payments in Queensland increased compared to pre-pandemic levels. Further, research shows that a growing share of JobSeeker recipients do not have full capacity to work because of impairments that prevent them from entering the workforce.
- JobSeeker payments of $44 per day are not adequate for recipients to meet a basic standard of living required to lead a life without disadvantage. Our modelling shows that households on JobSeeker payments will have to forego essential goods and services or increase debt levels to meet day-to-day expenses.
- Pathways to paid employment are limited for people on JobSeeker payments in Queensland. Labour market data in April 2021 indicated that there are six Queenslanders on the JobSeeker payment for every job vacancy in the state.
- People with partial capacity to work have greater barriers and fewer opportunities to enter the workforce.
QCOSS endorses the submission made by the Australian Council of Social Service to the Inquiry and recommends the following changes to the Disability Support Pension (DSP) eligibility criteria:
- The Program of Support should be abolished. While we recognise the intent to maintain integrity of the DSP payment system, the current Program of Support only serves to deny or postpone access to DSP and increases the number of people living with a disability who are below the poverty line.
- Ensure people with multiple disabilities or illnesses get the Disability Support Pension, including where they do not meet twenty points under one impairment table, but meet this threshold across impairment tables.
- A Disability and Illness Supplement should be introduced.
QCOSS further recommends that a clear distinction be made between the JobSeeker and the DSP payments, where the JobSeeker payments are provided to people with the capacity to undertake sufficient paid work and the DSP is provided to people who cannot engage in paid work due to an impairment.