THE Australian Council of Social Service has accused the government of misleading a Senate inquiry into the adequacy of Newstart when it suggested a couple with two children on the dole receive more money than the minimum wage.
In fact, families with children surviving on a single minimum wage take home up to 25 per cent more than a family on the dole when benefits like the family-tax benefit, schoolkids' bonus and rent assistance are taken into account.
The government's submission only counts family-tax benefit as applying to Newstart recipients, although families on a single wage are also eligible.
''This false comparison has led to some media reports that people on Newstart with children are receiving $300 above the minimum wage. This … belittles the enormous struggle of people trying to live on Newstart payments, especially if they are also raising children,'' ACOSS chief of staff Cassandra Goldie said.
After tax, the income of an unemployed couple with two children would rise by $77 per week if one parent got a job at the minimum wage.
ACOSS has written to the inquiry to highlight the inconsistency and to ''counter the myth'' that families are better off on the dole than working.
''The gap between Newstart Allowance for single people or sole parents and the income they would get on the minimum wage is more than $200 a week,'' Dr Goldie said.
Welfare groups have called for a $50-a-week increase to the single rate of Newstart, which is equivalent to $35 a day.
With DAN HARRISON