Former prime minister Kevin Rudd has urged the Government to show "a bit of a heart" and boost unemployment benefits, especially now that the budget surplus promise has been dumped.

There has been a growing push within Labor ranks to increase dole payments, although there is an about the best way to do that.

Mr Rudd has lent his support to the campaign for extra assistance for job seekers, in a move that will add pressure on the Government to act.

"This is a country with a bit of a heart... I think this is the sort of area where we should be showing a bit of a heart as well," Mr Rudd told ABC News 24.

"These are folk who are doing it tough, but I'm not going to get in the business of supporting one option or another.

"I think we could be doing more.

"I've also noted carefully what the Treasurer has said about the non-deliverability of the budget surplus. That decision he's announced last year does provide... a greater opportunity to attend to some pretty basic social needs like this one."

Senior Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon yesterday described the idea of an across-the-board increase in the dole as a "lazy" policy option, and instead called for more targeted support to help people find work.

A significant challenge for the Government will be where to find the money for any dole increase, given other significant spending commitments to the National Disability Insurance Scheme and an overhaul of school funding.

Several Labor MPs have now suggested that the Government's decision to drop its promise of a budget surplus this financial year should allow it to fund a wider range of policy ideas.

The maximum level of unemployment support for a single person with no children is $246 per week, something the Greens, unions, community groups and business organisations all agree is too low.

Labor Senator Doug Cameron yesterday said it would impossible for any politician to live on that amount, .

The Government has said it is considering the issue of whether to increase unemployment benefits, but it will be done in the broader context of other spending commitments.

 

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