OB snobs who refuse work because it’s too far to travel are in the federal government’s sights under reforms that would also collapse the disability support pension and unemployment benefits into a single universal welfare payment.
Determined to remove the “perverse incentive’’ to claim the disability pension because it is worth an extra $250 a fortnight compared to Newstart, Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews says the growing gap must be addressed.
But any changes would not involve stripping recipients of their current payments. Mr Andrews also ruled out including the age pension in any universal payment that would include add-ons for special circumstances such as disability.
“Essentially if you have to travel more than 90 minutes for that job you don’t have to take it. It’s not really fair to be subsidising people who would have to travel similar distances but don’t have to because of this rule.”
Mr Andrews also wants to dump the “90-minute rule” that allows the unemployed to turn down jobs that involve a lengthy commute.
“Essentially if you have to travel more than 90 minutes for that job you don’t have to take it,’’ Mr Andrews said.
“It’s not really fair to be subsidising people who would have to travel similar distances but don’t have to because of this rule.”
Last year, The Sunday Telegraph revealed the Disability Support Pension scheme faced a major overhaul, with the government considering temporary payments for new clients and forcing younger recipients back to work.
In some cases, extra top-up allowances for eligible disability pensioners can increase the value of payments to nearly double the rate of Newstart. Unlike Newstart recipients, DSP recipients are also spared demands that they search for work or even regular checks that they can work.
Mr Andrews has now confirmed the government will consider a universal payment covering disability pensioners and the unemployed as a longer-term option.
“There’s a perverse incentive to get on the disability support pension because it pays more than Newstart,’’ Mr Andrews said. “That’s something we have to be concerned about. Because of the indexation arrangements that gap is growing over the years.
“I am interested in resolving this growing gap between pension payments and Newstart payments. Obviously we would not be doing anything that changes arrangements for current recipients.”
The government has ruled out any changes to the age pension under the reforms.