Eligibility for JobSeeker and JobKeeper payments is changing again. Here’s how the new scheme will work

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Changes are coming to the JobSeeker and JobKeeper schemes and you might have to do things differently to keep receiving assistance.

In announcing the new measures attached to the $86 billion JobKeeper program and the JobSeeker coronavirus supplement, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg confirmed they would continue past their original end date of September.

There are tweaks and alterations to the payments — for a detailed look check out this handy guide.

But it won’t just be the amount hitting your bank accounts that may not be the same.

I don’t have a job yet. Am I still eligible for the JobSeeker allowance?

From August 4, if you are on JobSeeker you will have to prove you have undertaken at least four job searches a month, Mr Morrison said.

“So if there is a job to be taken and a job that is being offered, then it is an obligation, a mutual obligation, for those who are on JobSeeker to take those jobs where they’re on offer,” Mr Morrison said.

At the end of September, the Government will again increase the number of required job applications but it hasn’t yet announced how many you will need to do.

The JobSeeker coronavirus supplement — the amount extra paid per fortnight — is being reduced, but the base rate isn’t changing.

The $550 supplement is being cut after September to $250 a fortnight, meaning the total payment will go from $1,115 to $815, but will be paid out automatically if you’re on an eligible support scheme.

Mr Morrison said further changes to JobSeeker would be made toward the end of the year.

I’m working, but can I keep getting JobKeeper?

For businesses to be able to stay eligible for JobKeeper, they will have to continue to prove a drop in earnings of at least 30 per cent since the pandemic hit.

If they don’t meet the conditions for further payments under the scheme’s extension, that will not affect prior eligibility.

Employers also have to prove the relevant decline in turnover in all previous quarters to receive the payment.

So, if you’re applying for it for the first three months of next year, you will need to prove you lost money in the June, September and December quarters.

While there will be bit of extra work for business owners, things will mostly be the same if you are being paid JobKeeper.

“If you already get JobKeeper payment, you don’t need to do anything differently,” Services Australia says.

“Keep in mind, you still need to report your JobKeeper income to us each fortnight.”

From the end of September, the fortnightly payment for full-time workers is decreasing from $1,500 to $1,200.

Asset tests will factor in too

The Government will also reintroduce an assets test for eligibility and a waiting period if you have large amounts of money that are easily available to you.

Under the tests, if you’re a single non-homeowner you can have $482,500 in assets before the JobSeeker payment will be cut off.

That drops to a total asset value of $268,000 if you’re single and own your home, while for a couple who own their place the limit is $401,500.

If you and your partner don’t own a home, you can have up to $616,000 of assets but anything higher and you’ll be ineligible for JobSeeker.

What if I have a change in work or living situation?

As has been the case since the since the start of the pandemic, you must tell the Government about changes to work or personal circumstances.

So if you’re on JobSeeker and your work hours increase or you move house, you need to let Services Australia know, otherwise penalties can apply.

Likewise, you have to also tell them about:

  • Relationship status changes
  • Contact details changes
  • Care arrangements changes
  • Study situation changes
  • Sickness
  • Overseas trip
  • Lump sum payment
  • Change to your assets

If you are overpaid due to inaccurately reporting your own or your partner’s income, you could incur a debt you have to pay back.

And if you’re receiving JobKeeper payments from your work, you’ll need to keep reporting it as income to the Government.

For sole traders and self-employed workers, the JobKeeper payment counts as business income and must be treated as such.

“You’ll have to submit an updated Profit and Loss statement if there’s a change to your overall business profit,” Services Australia said.

“If you don’t do this, you may owe us money that you’ll need to pay back.”

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What other government support is still available?

Free childcare ended last week, putting one of the biggest household expenses back at the centre of many people’s budgets.

However, the Child Care Subsidy has been reintroduced, and the level of assistance you could be able to get will depend on your family’s income, the hourly rate cap paid for care and the hours of work, study or volunteer work you do.

The Government has also loosed that criteria to help families whose employment has been impacted by COVID-19.

They can receive up to 100 hours per fortnight of subsidised care until October 4.

If you’ve lost your job, lost your income, been adversely affected by the bushfires or COVID-19, you might be eligible to apply for financial hardship through the Additional Child Care Subsidy.

If eligible, you won’t have to meet the activity test and in most cases the full cost of child care will be covered.

The subsidy is paid for a maximum of 13 weeks.

To support the residential building industry, conditional grants of up to $25,000 are available for homeowners to upgrade or build their homes.

Mr Morrison said the scheme has been designed to support more than a million workers, including builders, plumbers and painters, for the next eight months.

(Original ABC Article)

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