The Government’s latest cut to the Coronavirus Supplement, which passed the Parliament overnight, will make the festive season even harder for the almost 2 million people currently without paid work, as well as the more than one million children in these families, according to the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS).
“There is currently only one job vacancy available for every 11 people looking for a job or more paid working hours, and even fewer jobs in regional areas,” ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said.
Despite record high unemployment and underemployment, the Government will be cutting income support down to $50 per day, reducing the rate almost to the original Newstart rate of $40 a day.
“As one of the last acts of the 2020 Parliament, this is a low blow – cutting even further the incomes of people with the least – as politicians head home to spend time with family and friends,” said Goldie.
“From the end of the year, people on JobSeeker will receive only $10 more a day more than the unlivable Newstart rate, which had not been increased in real terms in more than a quarter of a century.
“As 2021 begins and everyone tries to put 2020 behind them, people unable to get paid work due to record high unemployment will be trying to get by on just $50 a day to cover housing, food, transport and bills.
“To make matters worse, the Government has not ruled out sending people back to the old, brutal Newstart rate of just $40 a day in March.
“Millions are facing agonising decisions like whether they will be able to afford to stay in their homes after Christmas, and which essential items, like food, bills or medicine, they will have to cut back on even further.
“This is not the way to restore economic confidence in order for the country to recover from recession. Both people and the economy need security in order to be able rebuild.
ACOSS is calling for a permanent increase to the base rate of JobSeeker, of at least $25 a day more than the old Newstart rate, so that people can cover the basics, like housing, food, bills, and transport.
“This minimum increase would bring the payment only just above the poverty line, and closer to the pension rate, as it used to be. It would a much better spend than the high-end income tax cuts that the Government is planning,” said Goldie.
“As we rebuild from the crisis, we can’t turn our back on those who are being left behind.”