Unemployed Aussies $50 a week worse off under JobSeeker changes
Unemployed Aussies are set to be $50 a week worse off, the difference between gaining $25 a week in JobSeeker payments while losing the $75 a week coronavirus supplement.
According to the coalition government, the JobSeeker increase, set to begin in April, will benefit almost two million unemployed Australians.
But March 31 will mark the end of the $150 fortnightly coronavirus supplement.
"We need to support people while they're looking for work, we need to create the incentives so they want to look for work," says Social Services Minister Anne Ruston.
"We need to ensure that we have a system that is fair and sustainable for the people who need it and the taxpayers who pay for it."
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the increase is fair and reasonable as the government moves to "normalise" social welfare payments following the during and following the coronavirus pandemic.
"Welfare is a safety net, not a wage supplement. We want to get the balance right between providing support for people and incentives to work," he says.
"The actions we have taken this year successfully cushioned us against the impact of the pandemic and mean that we no longer need to rely on the emergency supports which have sustained us over the past 12 months."
However, Mission Australia CEO James Toomey says the government has squandered an opportunity to reduce poverty and homelessness.
"Already, many people surviving on income support are facing immense distress and insecurity. Moving to a JobSeeker rate of $615.70 a fortnight - or around $44 a day - is unfathomable and will not help get people back into work."
The increase has been framed by the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) as "a heartless betrayal of millions".
"[The] Government has turned its back on those with the least, plunging people further into poverty," says ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie.
"Already, at $51 a day with the temporary Coronavirus Supplement, people on JobSeeker are currently being forced to make impossible decisions, choosing between housing, food, medications, basic toiletries and paying bills."
"Now, come the end of next month, they are expected to struggle on even less - just $44 a day to cover the essentials of life, including rent, as well as the cost of job searching."