JobSeeker recipients in line for extra $25 a week after coronavirus supplement ends in March
People on the JobSeeker unemployment benefit could get an extra $25 per week under a federal government plan to permanently increase the payment.
The boost will take the total allowance to $307 per week.
The government temporarily increased the dole during the COVID-19 crisis, but that supplement is due to end in a month’s time.
Labor, the Greens and a broad coalition of business and welfare groups have long been calling for a permanent boost, arguing the dole has not increased in real terms in more than 20 years.
In addition to the payment increase, the plan includes a rise in the threshold before benefits start to taper off.
That means recipients will be able to earn more before their payments are decreased.
The Coalition party room is discussing the proposal today.
Cabinet and the government’s Expenditure Review Committee have already approved the plan.
Supplement to end
The increase in JobSeeker follows the removal of the coronavirus supplement — a top-up payment for more than a million welfare recipients.
That decreased from $125 per week to $75 per week on January 1 and it will disappear entirely on March 31.
It was as high as $275 per week between April and September.
On Tuesday morning, Labor leader Anthony Albanese said the current rate — before the mooted increase — was not enough to live on.
“It’s important there be a permanent increase, and that that be done as a matter of urgency to provide certainty to people,” he said.
He declined to name the size of increase that Labor would support, saying only that he would respond to the government’s announcement.
“We don’t have a chance to change the figure today, or next week, or next month,” he said.
“What we have to do is consider what our approach would be as an alternative government.”
Greens senator Rachel Siewert said $25 a week was not enough.
“It’s a complete and utter joke. it makes a mockery of the government saying that they care about those that are doing it tough in this country.”
Australian Council of Social Service chief executive Cassandra Goldie said the increase represented a cut after factoring in the removal of the coronavirus supplement, and it would represent a “devastating decision”.
“People have tried to explain to the government the reality of their lives, out there to try and keep a roof over your head, keep yourself fed,” she said.
“The last thing we need is for the government to turn its back on people at such a crucial stage.”
Chris Richardson from Deloitte Access Economics also agreed the increase needed to be larger.
“I am very proud that Australia, after a quarter of a century on both sides of government over that time, [is] finally doing something about our biggest fail as a nation, particularly during a pandemic.
“But it’s not enough.”