The maximum JobSeeker payment will effectively be slashed from September 28, thanks to the government’s decision to cut the fortnightly Coronavirus Supplement from $550 to $250 per fortnight.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison made the announcement at Parliament House this morning, saying Australia’s current support system “cannot go on forever.”
“Australians understand that. They also understand that the JobSeeker at the elevated levels cannot go on forever,” he said.
While a single JobSeeker recipient with no children can currently claim a maximum of $1,115.70 per fortnight – that is, the base JobSeeker payment of $565.70, plus the Coronavirus Supplement of $550 – the new rules will drop that total to $815.70 per fortnight.
Expect further updates on the Coronavirus Supplement and JobSeeker at the end of the year.
That’s not the only change to the scheme, either.
The income threshold to claim JobSeeker will be raised to $300 a fortnight, meaning folks can earn income from work and claim the entitlement – if they can find work amid hectic unemployment, that is – and assets testing is set for a return in late September.
As of August 4, JobSeeker recipients will also be required to undertake four job searches a month, and Morrison said the “penalties regime will kick in if people refuse a job that has been provided and offered through that process.”
Forcing punters to apply for jobs during a pandemic? No wozzas.
Today’s news will come as a bitter disappointment to advocates for the unemployed, who had hoped the Coronavirus Supplement would become a permanent addition to the JobKeeper payment.
James Toomey, CEO of charity Mission Australia, said the cut will “return people to poverty and leave them unable to meet their basic needs, including housing at Christmas and into 2021.”
In a tweet, the Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union called the decision a “travesty.”
Wow, you can now earn $300 per fortnight without your payment being affected … good luck finding a job for that
250 per fortnight supplement to stay. This is a travesty.
— AUWU (@AusUnemployment) July 21, 2020
Doesn’t look like there’s going to be a backflip on this one, though.
Morrison said the Coronavirus Supplement and subsidies like JobKeeper “were never designed to be permanent and in terms of longer-term arrangements around income supports, those decisions will be made at another time.”