Media Briefing: Who misses out on Covid Disaster Payments?

People on the lowest incomes miss out on support

  • Despite the $200pw Covid Disaster Payments for people on income support who lost paid work because of lockdowns, this has not fixed the problem: around three in four people on the lowest incomes are ineligible for these payments because they did not lose eight or more hours of paid work as a result of the lockdown. This includes people without paid work prior to the lockdown and people who lost their job before the lockdown started.
  • In Greater Sydney, an estimated 350,000 people are denied Covid Disaster Payments (including 50,000 children), despite being on incomes as little as $36 a day (Youth Allowance).
  • Most people who are excluded receive JobSeeker Payment, which is just $44 a day. People on JobSeeker and other income support have next to no chance of securing paid work because of the lockdowns, so they cannot increase their incomes.
  • ACOSS research found that 50% of people on income support in lockdown are at risk of homelessness, and 100% are struggling with living costs.
  • In addition, people seeking asylum and temporary visa holders without paid work before the lockdowns are ineligible for support and may be without any income at all because they do not qualify for Centrelink payments.

Recommendations to fix this problem

  1. The Federal Government must immediately extend Covid Disaster Payments to everyone on income support and people without an income.
  2. The Federal Parliament must pass legislation to increase base rates of income support to above the poverty line (which would increase JobSeeker from $44 a day to $65 a day).

In addition, Parliament must increase Commonwealth Rent Assistance by 50%, introduce a Disability and Illness Supplement of at least $50 a week, and establish a Single Parent Supplement to recognise the added costs of single parenthood.