Permanent JobSeeker increase must raise rate to at least $65 per day and ensure everyone has enough for the basics of their life

19 February 2021

With media reporting of an imminent announcement from the Federal Government of a permanent increase to JobSeeker, ACOSS reiterates that the increase must be enough for people to cover the basics of their life.

ACOSS is calling for a permanent increase of at least $25 a day more than the old, brutal rate of Newstart, which was $40 a day. This would bring the rate of JobSeeker to $65 a day. This increase must not come at the expense of other vital supports provided, including to people who have children, people renting privately, or people with an illness or disability. When the Government doubled the rate of JobSeeker, many people needed every dollar they were getting and in some cases more, particularly people who were renting and single parents.

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:

“Millions of people who will be directly impacted by this decision are waiting to see whether the Government will ensure they can cover the essentials they need while they are locked out of paid work.

“We cannot leave people to make impossible choices between food, rent, bills basic toiletries and medications. Everyone should be able to cover the basics of their life, including people with disability and single parents who are on the JobSeeker Payment. We must also ensure people can meet the costs of job search, including transport, communications and clothing.

“Australia has the lowest unemployment payment in the OECD and there is widespread support for a permanent, adequate increase after more than a quarter of a century without a real increase.

“At just $51 a day, the current rate of JobSeeker is clearly not enough with people again unable to pay their rent, skipping meals, and afford essential bills.

“The Morrison Government delivered an historic and long overdue increase to JobSeeker in 2020, protecting millions from poverty overnight. It must now deliver on a permanent and adequate increase to JobSeeker for the long term. We have an obligation to make sure that anyone hit by unemployment, whenever that occurs, at least has enough to meet their essential costs and live with dignity so they can begin to rebuild their lives,” Dr Goldie said.