Permanent increase to JobSeeker and Youth Allowance must be enough to cover the basics

As reported today, the Government is considering a permanent increase to the old Newstart rate ($40 a day) of $10 a day, which would come into effect for people on JobSeeker, once the Coronavirus Supplement, which effectively doubled the old rate to $80 a day, is set to finish in September.

Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:

“We need to raise the rate of JobSeeker, Youth Allowance and other income support payments for good so that everyone has enough to cover the basics of life, like a roof over their head and food on the table.

“While we welcome that the Government is planning a permanent increase, it must allow people to cover the basics and we know that an increase of $10 a day won’t go far enough.

“We need to let people know we have their backs. We must adequately raise the rate of JobSeeker and Youth Allowance for good so that people can cover the basics they need to get by – a $10 a day increase to the old, low Newstart rate won’t be enough to allow people to cover their housing costs, food, bills and transport.

“As we handle the COVID-19 health crisis and confront the economic crisis, more people than ever before will struggle to find paid work. Just in the last week we’ve seen thousands of job losses.

“It’s clear to everyone, including the Government, that we can’t turn back to where we were when people were struggling to survive on $40 per day. This is not enough to live, let alone to cover the basics.

“There must be an adequate, permanent increase, which ensures people do not lose their homes. Even with the Supplement, only 1.5% of rentals are affordable for people on JobSeeker, Australia-wide. We know that with the Coronavirus Supplement people have been struggling to cover their rent. People are telling us they need every single dollar they are getting now with the doubling of JobSeeker in order to cover the essentials.

“Making sure people have enough to cover the basics is not only the right thing to do but the smart thing to do for the economy. A $75 per week permanent increase to the old rate is effectively a $200 per week cut to the current rate. Cutting the incomes of almost 2 million people by $200 per week in September would not be what businesses and the economy need to rebuild.

“To get through this crisis, we need to support each other, so everyone has access to the basics to rebuild their lives,” Dr Goldie said.