JobSeeker boost is extended until March at a reduced rate of $150 per fornight – giving a lifeline to 1.5million unemployed Aussies
- JobSeeker coronavirus boost expected to drop $100 to $150 per fortnight
- Brings the single rate of the JobSeeker payment down to $715 per fortnight
- The supplement is expected to be extended from December 31 to March 28
- Australian Council of Social Services asked for $95 a week rise before crisis
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is extending the JobSeeker supplement at a reduced rate until March 28 – giving a small boost to more than 1.5 million Australians left jobless by the coronavirus pandemic.
The federal cabinet’s expenditure review committee is understood to have approved the JobSeeker coronavirus supplement extension last week.
The $250 supplement had been set to expire on December 31, which would have brought the JobSeeker payment back to its pre-pandemic rate of $565 per fortnight for single unemployed people.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison pictured last month. The Morrison Government flagged a reduction and extension in the coronavirus JobSeeker supplement and it’s thought to be ready
The reduction brings the total JobSeeker rate down to $715 per fortnight for single unemployed people, or $150 per fortnight more than the pre-pandemic rate.
The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) had been campaigning for the government to increase JobSeeker by $95 per week before the pandemic hit, saying $565 per fortnight was not enough to pay for essentials, with welfare recipients skipping meals each week.
ACOSS chief executive Cassandra Goldie said at the time $95 a week, which would bring the fortnightly payment to $745 was the ‘absolute minimum’ increase needed to pay for essentials like food and medicine.
Labor, the Greens and welfare groups have been calling on the government to extend the JobSeeker payments without reducing it.
When the pandemic hit in March, the government’s coronavirus supplement added $550 per fortnight boost to bring the payment up to $1,100 per fortnight for a single person.
On September 25, the supplement was reduced to $250, bringing the single rate down to $815 a fortnight until December 31.
At the same time, the government raised the amount of money people could earn before their benefits were cut to $300 a fortnight.
A personal trainer wipes gym equipment in Melbourne on Monday. The JobSeeker coronavirus supplement is expected to be reduced to $150 per fortnight and extended to March
Underemployed casual workers lost 60 cents in JobSeeker payments for each dollar earned above that threshold after that date, the ABC reported.
The new cut from December 31 will bring the rate down to $40 per fortnight below the ACOSS minimum threshold, with the supplement to be ended entirely in March to the level at which ACOSS said recipients were skipping meals.
About 1.5 million Australians, or 10 per cent of people of working age, received JobSeeker and the unemployed Youth Allowance in September.
The number of unemployed is more than double September 2019 when just 4.8 per cent of people were on unemployment support, ABC News reported.
The Morrison Government flagged the extension and reduction of the coronavirus supplement last month with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg repeatedly hinting at the changes.
About 1.5 million people or 10 per cent of people of working age received JobSeeker and the unemployed Youth Allowance in September. Pictured: queue at Centrelink Gold Coast
‘People can expect the supplement going forward beyond the end of this year,’ he told parliament.
‘We expect the new JobSeeker rate will be lower than what it is right now… it should be higher than the old Newstart rate.’
The JobSeeker payment replaced the old Newstart benefit of $559 per fortnight in March, raising it by $6.
According to budget papers, the coronavirus supplement from June to December will cost taxpayers $16.8 billion.
The figure for March to June 2020 was about $5 billion, taking the total cost of the policy to just under $22 billion.