18 June 2020
ACOSS is encouraged by reports that the Federal Government is considering a permanent increase to the Jobseeker payment and urges it to engage with key stakeholders, experts and those with lived experience to set a payment rate that meets the needs of people affected and the economy.
ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said: “In this precarious economic environment, it is more important than ever that we have a robust safety net for the 1.6 million people who are now locked out of enough paid work, and the projected more than 2 million people needing income support in September.
“The unemployment rates today show the devastation to people’s livelihoods: 824,000 people have lost their jobs in the last two months. Rebuilding our economy will take time, we need to ensure support for people now and into the future.”
“The reality is that doubling the previous unemployment rate to $550 per week has put people just above the poverty line. We hear from people every day that they are spending the higher payments on desperately needed essentials like fresh fruit and vegetables, utility bills and warm winter clothes for their children. This has transformed lives, and provided a lifeline to a flagging economy.”
“We have an opportunity now to transition from crisis measures to enduring reforms to deliver a simpler and fairer income support system for all. This system should smooth people’s incomes through major transitions, reflect individual and family needs, treat different households with similar costs equitably and support employment participation.”
ACOSS is preparing its submission to the Federal Government about what should be done next to fix social security to support the community, prevent long term unemployment and support the COVID-19 recovery.
During recent consultations, which are ongoing, ACOSS members and supporters, grassroots communities and other experts have recommended a base rate increase to JobSeeker of between $185 and $275 per week.
As Anglicare has shown, housing remains largely unaffordable on JobSeeker even with the doubling of the JobSeeker payment.
“The payment system should reflect household’s basic living costs and treat households in the same financial position consistently. For example, it doesn’t make sense to give one household more than another, on the basis of age or ability to engage in paid work, when they have the same basic living expenses.”
“Lifting allowances permanently and substantially would have positive employment effects – stimulating consumer demand and jobs growth, equipping people with the resources they need to be work-ready while maintaining strong incentives to enter paid work.”
“Cutting income support back to $40 a day would have devastating consequences for people and the economy. If we want to boost employment, we must ensure everyone has enough to cover the basics like food, housing and transport. The Government took swift and decisive action to lift people’s incomes during the crisis. We now have the opportunity to convert that temporary relief into enduring reform with enormous social and economic benefits.”
Media contact: Australian Council of Social Service, 0419 626 155