Payment cuts bring new pain for mum and son

LIKE most parents, Telarah’s Tanya Sweeney faces bills, pays the  mortgage, buys groceries and covers  school and sporting costs.

But unlike most parents she does it by herself.  Miss Sweeney, who works part time to support her son Connor, 13, is one of 80,000 single parents who were shifted from the parenting payment to the Newstart allowance this week, leaving her $170 a fortnight worse off.

 Families Minister Jenny Macklin  has angered welfare groups and  come under fire from single parents across Australia after claiming she could live on the $35-a-day allowance.

Miss Sweeney said the changes, and Ms Macklin’s comments, were an insult and evidence the government was out of touch.

Ms Macklin also urged single parents to return to work, saying it would be better for the family, and that their children would have better role models  if they were employed.

Miss Sweeney told the Newcastle Herald she was considering getting a second job and was ‘‘outraged’’ the federal government hadn’t thought of the ‘‘long-term consequences’’ cutting the payments would have.

‘‘This announcement is already having an affect on me,’’ she said.

‘‘Any time there  are changes or uncertainty about your financial situation there is stress associated with that and if you’re the only person that is providing financially then it makes it even more difficult.’’

Miss Sweeney said the cut in benefits would affect everything from the mortgage payments to general maintenance around the house.

She said urging single parents to work more was a ‘‘double-edged sword’’ because longer hours at the office meant more childcare and after-hours costs.

‘‘They want to push more mums into the workforce but the majority of single parents are already working,’’ she said.

‘‘I find it really distressing that the government is so out of touch with reality and the stresses involved with being a single parent.’’

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