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.

jobkeeper increase

"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."

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David Thornton was a journalist at Money from September 2019 to November 2021. He previously worked at Your Money, covering market news as producer of Trading Day Live. Before that, he covered business and finance news at The Constant Investor. David holds a Masters of International Relations from the University of Melbourne.
Col Morris
February 24, 2021 4.55pm

As you may know, 1/4 of all jobseekers are aged over 55 and it is not so simple to just get a job especially when you live in regional or rural areas.

My husband and I are both over 60, he's got chronic health problems that have prevented him from working full time for over 5 years, but he is able and happy to work voluntarily a couple of days a week. I know he has courage and willingness to work, but no employer (not one) has offered to give him a go in over 5 years.

I am healthy, fit and able but gave up my part time work 3 years ago to be available to care for him, run him to appointments and advocate on his behalf. Drugs he takes are so strong that he can't drive or operate machinery so I need to drive him around. Being such a lazy bugger, I won't volunteer to work for 30 hours a fortnight like he does. I apply for the mandated number of jobs each month and sit back and wait for the phone calls asking me to attend an interview. Realistically, I doubt either of us will ever work again, but as we are too young for the pension we just have to work the system until we either quit trying and draw upon our Super or reach 67 years of age.

I am sure some people look down upon us as dole bludgers, but he served in the Australian defense forces in his younger days and worked hard to provide for his family for over 40 years. I also worked for close on 40 years, including a couple of years as a young stay at home mum.

Right now I don't see anything wrong with us standing back, collecting Jobseeker and letting the younger ones have first pick of the jobs. We've had our go and managed to enjoy a good life, bought houses, put money away for our old age and now want to see nothing more than the younger generation get a turn to enjoy the good things in life. They will want to buy a home and a couple of cars and raise a family. Work will do that for them, and we don't intend to stand in their way.