Almost 90% of people on lowest incomes in lockdown missing out on disaster payments

With almost 90% of people on the lowest incomes in lockdown missing out on the disaster payments, ACOSS reiterates its call for the $200-per-week disaster payment to be extended to all people struggling to survive in deep poverty, such as those trying to get by on JobSeeker ($44 per day/$315 per week.)

The Federal Government’s own data show just a little over a tenth of people locked down on income support payments, such as JobSeeker, have been able to access the $200-per-week disaster payment.

Currently, the disaster payments exclude people who did not have paid work going into the lockdowns. This is despite lockdowns making it near impossible to find paid work.

Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:

“People with the very least are being completely left out of the lockdown disaster support. This makes no sense, socially, economically or from a public health perspective.

“Last year, the Federal Government protected people on the lowest incomes first, with the Coronavirus Supplement going to single parents, and people on Jobseeker or Youth Allowance.

“This year, people with the least are being abandoned, and local communities are trying respond to people in desperate need of basics like food, toilet paper, and nappies.

“Excluding 90% of people on the lowest incomes from disaster support deeply undermines the very effectiveness of the lockdowns – you can’t stay at home if you can’t afford to keep a roof overhead.

“As lockdowns continue to be extended, people with the least are really hurting, especially those who had no paid work going into lockdown, as most had no savings behind them, and yet are excluded from the disaster payments.

“The majority are on JobSeeker, just $44 a day, with no hope in sight of finding paid work due to the lockdowns, which although necessary, are driving up underemployment.

“We urge the Federal Government to immediately fix this glaring gap in the COVID response and for all state and territory governments to also urge for this to happen, including at National Cabinet on Friday,” Dr Goldie said.