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Welfare benefits need to cover the daily essentials

fragile woman being assisted by her partner

By Alisdair Valente

Cuts to the Coronavirus Supplement from today should prompt the Federal Government to raise the base rate of welfare payments to cover essential living for millions of Australians.

The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) proposes a reform on JobSeeker/JobKeeper to increase the base amount of welfare paid to recipients to coincide with the COVID19 Supplements’ ending on March 31.

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie believes the government may be set to undo their achievement in alleviating poverty for over 2.3 million Australians by reducing daily allowance rates to what they once were when the COVID-19 Supplements’ ends.

“People struggling to get by on JobSeeker, Youth Allowance, parenting and family payments were suddenly able to pay their rent and bills, buy fresh fruit and vegetables, get the medical care they needed and regularly eat three meals a day,” Dr Goldie said.

“The number of people on JobSeeker doubled to 1.5 million during the pandemic and is expected to rise still more when JobKeeper ends in March,” Dr Goldie said.

Dr Goldie is concerned that the Federal Government has not ruled out sending people back to the old Newstart rate of $40 a day once the COVID19 Supplement ends.

“JobSeeker is an investment in people’s future both for people relying on this lifeline payment and for jobs – as virtually every dollar of the Coronavirus Supplement goes straight back into the local economy helping to keep other people in employment,” Dr Goldie said.

Because of this investment in people, Dr Goldie with ACOSS is proposing a permanent increase to the base rate of JobSeeker of at least $25 a day, more than the old Newstart rate to ensure people can cover the costs of essential living.

“This minimum increase would bring the JobSeeker payment to just above the poverty line, and closer to the pension rate, and it would be a much better spend than the high-end income tax cuts that the Government is planning,” Dr Goldie said.

“2020 was tough for many, but for millions of people with the least, their need is urgent – we can’t turn our back on those who are being left behind,” Dr Goldie said.

For more information on the ACOSS proposal on reforming welfare and JobSeeker, please visit their website listed here.

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