Survey shows increased JobSeeker payment allowing people to eat regularly, cover rent and pay bills

More than 9 out of 10 people in a national survey reported that the removal of the new JobSeeker rate would have a significant or extreme impact on their ability to cover the cost of essentials.

The national survey by the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) of 955 people currently receiving JobSeeker, Youth Allowance or other social security payments with the Coronavirus Supplement shows the difference it has made to their lives. The overwhelming majority of people who completed the survey had been receiving one of these social security payments before the Coronavirus Supplement was brought in.
•       94% said the removal of the supplement would have a significant or extreme impact on their ability to cover the cost of essentials.
•       93% said they were now able to afford fresh fruit and vegetables.
•       83% reported eating healthier and more regularly. Prior to the supplement, 74% of respondents skipped meals. Of those who skipped meals, 28% skipped 1 meal a day or more
•       69% said they were now able to pay for essential medical and health treatments.
•       75% said they were able to pay their bills.
•       65% said it was easier to pay rent or move to safer accommodation.

Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:
“Our survey shows that the increased JobSeeker rate is allowing people to cover the basic essentials of life. Unlike when they were really struggling to get by on the old Newstart rate of just $40 a day, people now don’t have to skip as many meals and are now able to buy fresh fruit and vegetables, while paying their rent and bills.

“The survey makes it clear we can’t go back to where we were – when people were struggling to survive on $40 per day which is just not enough to live, let alone to cover the basics.

“As we rebuild after the crisis, we can’t turn our backs on those who are struggling – we need to permanently increase JobSeeker and Youth Allowance so that people have enough to cover the basics,” said Dr Goldie.
Melbourne mother, Mandy, said, “Until they announced the Coronavirus Supplement, I was honestly terrified. I didn’t know what we were going to do for money. I was selling things to keep us going.

“Having the Supplement is making a huge difference – it’s not a luxury, we can now cover the basics. I lose sleep thinking about when it ends. We’ll go back to paying less of our power and water bills, eating less, we won’t be able to afford medication for everyone in the house,” said Mandy.

Rita in Adelaide said the increased JobSeeker payment is allowing her to finally eat regular meals:

“My fridge is full, my freezer is full – I can eat every day, mostly 3 meals a day. Before, I usually only ate one meal per day and there were always 3-4 days in the fortnight when I wouldn’t eat at all. Now I can afford shampoo, moisturizer and deodorant. I can do a plan to pay off my electricity bill, I’m even thinking of getting a no-interest loan to buy a new fridge.”

When asked “What are the major ways the Coronavirus Supplement will affect your life?”:
•       65% found it easier to pay rent or be able to move into better and safer accommodation
•       60% could save up to purchase major household items (i.e., fridges, freezers, tables)
•       57% were able to pay off debts
•       33.7% could save up to pay for studying/training.

Read the survey

Media contact:  Australian Council of Social Service, 0419 626 155