The lockdown support package announced today by the Federal and NSW governments excludes people on the lowest incomes: people receiving JobSeeker, Youth Allowance and other payments even though so many are locked out of trying to find paid work in lockdown. JobSeeker is just $315pw and Youth Allowance is just $256pw.
There are almost 400,000 people in Greater Sydney on income support payments like JobSeeker that are below the poverty line.
Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:
“People on JobSeeker now have little to no hope of gaining employment in lockdown. They are struggling to get by below the poverty line with Jobseeker just $315 a week. Yet, the Government’s announcement today excludes them from the disaster payments, despite many having lost paid work because of the lockdown.
“While we welcome that the increased disaster payments will help many people on low and modest incomes who have lost paid work due to the lockdown, those on the lowest incomes are being left to face destitution and homelessness.
“You can’t stay at home if you can’t afford to keep a roof over your head.
“To get through this, we must ensure everyone has enough to cover the basics, including housing, so that they can keep themselves and others safe. The package today fails to deliver on this.”
NSW Council of Social Service CEO Joanna Quilty said:
“Extending supports that enable rough sleepers to access temporary accommodation is welcome, as is the boost in funding for mental health services.
“It’s positive that the business supports will extend to not-for-profits, but we await further details on how this will be applied to frontline organisations.
“The eviction moratorium and additional measures to encourage rent reductions, are also welcome. However, if the lockdown is extended further, more support may be required.
“Housing costs in Sydney are the biggest hit on the weekly budget and impossible to manage if you have lost your income, so strong measures are needed to ensure people who rent do not become homeless.”