One of Geraldton’s biggest welfare providers has joined a growing chorus of people who want to see more money handed to the unemployed, arguing job seekers are struggling to survive on existing payments.

Newstart — the Commonwealth’s main program for supporting people out of work — has not been increased in the past 25 years, prompting welfare groups and politicians around the country to demand change from the Federal Government.

Salvation Army Geraldton’s new captains Scott and Natalie Norman, who replaced former bosses Shannon and Tracy Watson a month ago, both believe funds for those out of work should be pumped up.

“The Salvation Army supports the push to increase Newstart of at least $75 a week,” Mr Norman said.

“A minimum increase of $75 per week to Newstart and related payments will help people struggling to afford three meals a day cover the costs of essentials such as a roof over their head whilst they are seeking employment.

“For many who are already vulnerable and feeling the pressure of looking for employment, food deprivation and having to go without basic essentials of life are a common occurrence.

“While many at the moment are receiving tax cuts, it is critical our Government sends a clear message we as a country also care about those most in need.”

The Commonwealth has repeatedly ruled out an increase to benefits, other than six-monthly changes connected to inflation.

In Parliament recently, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said welfare dependency among working-age Australians was at its lowest point in 30 years and the best approach was a “hand up” and not a “hand out”.

In 2017-18, the Human Services Department gave $112.4 billion to people with disabilities, carers, pensioners, students and the unemployed.

Current maximum fortnightly Newstart payments:

* Single, no children: $555.70

* Single, with dependant/s: $601.10

* Single, aged 60 or older: $601.10

* In a relationship: $501.70 each

* Carer (Foster caring, non-parent relative taking care of child under a court order, home schooling, distance education, large family) $776.10