Threshold change adds strain for struggling single parents

IT WAS promoted by the federal government as a move to encourage more single parents to find work. But the changes to the single parenting payment are having the opposite effect for mother-of-four Katrina Rae.

From January 1, Ms Rae will no longer qualify for any social security payments unless she quits her job or reduces her hours of work. The Newstart Allowance, onto which single parents will now be moved once their youngest child turns eight, has a lower maximum threshold than the parenting payment, which means Ms Rae will earn $138 too much to be eligible.

Ms Rae earns $1860 a fortnight, working full-time in insurance.

The Blue Mountains mother said she was already struggling to pay the bills and the loss of income would mean the family had to choose between basic necessities such as food and rent. She was worried the family could even lose their home.

''How is my daughter going to go in her HSC if we're living in my car?'' she said.

Even more crucially, she would lose her single parent pension benefits, which pay for vital health services for her children, who have been estranged from their father for the past 10 years.

''Three of my children also have depression,'' she said. ''I won't be able to afford medication. I won't be able to afford to go to the doctor.''

Ms Rae said she wanted to set a good example to her children by working to support herself but the government was making that more difficult than ever.

This story Threshold change adds strain for struggling single parents first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.