Federal Government cuts Pandemic Payment as COVID cases explode

ACOSS condemns the decision by the Federal Government to cut the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment available to people who have COVID or are a close contact and must isolate.

This payment, which was $750pw for everyone, will be reduced to $450pw for people without paid leave entitlements who lose between 8 and 19 hours of paid work per week because they must isolate. For people who lose less than 8 hours of paid work, they will not be entitled to any Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment.

The Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment is available to people who do not have paid leave entitlements and who have covid, are a close contact and must isolate, and people who are providing care to someone with covid.

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said: 

“It is appalling that the Federal Government is cutting the only Federal income support payment for people who have COVID and must isolate when we have record case numbers.

“Not only do people need to deal with the stress of contracting the virus and worry of transmitting it to their loved ones, but many will also now receive less income support or nothing at all thanks to this dreadful penny pinching by the Federal Government.

“We condemn the decision to reduce the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment. It should remain at $750 per week for all. Furthermore, it should also be extended to people who receive income support if they test positive to COVID, must look after a loved one with COVID or are a close contact and must isolate.

“There must also be no liquid assets test. People must also be given at least 28 days to claim the payment, not 14. Considering some test results are taking seven days or more, 14 days is grossly inadequate to claim the payment.

“The Federal Government must not walk away from the community now when the pandemic is worsening. Rather than cutting the payment at the height of the pandemic, we urge the Federal Government to expand it, and increase base rates of income support to at least $69 a day to ensure our safety net meets people’s basic needs.”