The federal government is expected to announce a long-awaited permanent boost to the JobSeeker payment on Tuesday, only about 20 years after it should’ve happened.

Nothing has been officially announced just yet, but it is understood that the Morrison government has agreed to raise the rate from April 1. No, this is not an April Fools joke.

When Does JobSeeker, As We Know It Right Now, Get Cut?

As it currently stands, the maximum JobSeeker amount for a single person with no children sits at $565.70 per fortnight.

Additionally, the JobSeeker payment is boosted by the temporary Coronavirus Supplement payment of $150 per fortnight, which brings it to a somewhat liveable amount. Anyone who is eligible for at least $1 of income support receives the full supplement amount.

However, the flat rate and the supplement will both be dropped from 31 March 2021.

What Do We Know About The Changes?

Right now, JobSeeker is set to revert to its pre-COVID amount from April 1. However, the government is expected to announce a raise the base rate on Tuesday.

The Morrison Government met overnight to discuss the increase to the amount, which is set to be signed off officially by the Coalition party room on Tuesday morning.

The meeting comes after Treasurer Josh Frydenberg hinted at a raise to the amount during an interview last week.

“We want all Australians to live with dignity but also we want all Australians who are on the JobSeeker payment to eventually move into the workforce as quickly as possible,” he told ABC radio, asserting that the rate might not be as high as expected.

What Will The New JobSeeker Amount Be?

As expected, Scott Morrison has today confirmed that the JobSeeker amount will be raised by $50 per fortnight.

“We are re-basing the JobSeeker payment to ensure that the long-term arrangements are there for people to rely on should they find themselves out of work and to get the support they need when they’re out of work. And that will lead to an increase of $50 per fortnight in that base payment,” Morrison said in a press conference on Tuesday. 

The JobSeeker payment increase is the largest increase to the payment since 1994, but still leaves welfare recipients on less than half of the national minimum wage.

I think the more relevant feature to focus on is its percentage of the minimum wage. It brings up from 37.5% to 41.2%,” Morrison confirmed. 

Additionally, the government isincreasing the income-free area to $150 per fortnight for those on JobKeeper and youth allowance other, as opposed to those on a student payment, who already have a higher income-free area.”

Mutual obligation requirements will also be reintroduced, with jobseekers being required to attend face-to-face appointments with job providers. Additionally, JobSeeker recipients will be required to complete 15 job searches per month, until July 1, when this number will revert back to the pre-COVID 20 jobs per month.

Furthermore, the waiting period waiver that was due to end in April has now been extended until June 30.

How Much Do Experts Want JobSeeker Raised By?

The government has faced pressure to raise the rate for longer than I’ve even been alive, with different experts recommending different amounts.

Australian Council of Social Service CEO Cassandra Goldie has told Sunrise that the amount should be no lower than $65 per day.

“We’ve recommended that we need an absolute minimum of an increase to $65 a day,” Goldie told Sunrise, blasting the idea of an $11/day raise.

“We know that even now at $51 a day we’ve got people making impossible decisions, very distressed about whether they’re going to be able to keep the roof over the head, pay the rent, the basics of covering food.”

Meanwhile, the Australian Unemployed Workers Union wanted the rate boosted to $80/day, which is close to the rate paid at the height of the pandemic.

GetUp National Director Paul Oosting asserted that the $50/fortnight raise is a “despicable sham.”

“This isn’t a raise in the JobSeeker rate — it’s a half-arsed PR exercise that will entrench poverty and disadvantage for more than 1.2 million Australians who depend on JobSeeker to survive. The Morrison Government has thrown people on JobSeeker some crumbs and called it a raise. What it really is is an insult,” he told PEDESTRIAN.TV.

“If the Morrison Government thinks that this joke of a rate raise will make this issue go away, they’ve got another thing coming. Parliament must act to raise the JobSeeker rate to $80 a day, in line with Australia’s current poverty line. Anything less is a despicable sham.”

Additionally, new data from Deloitte Access Economics has estimated that an $80/fortnight increase in JobSeeker and Youth Allowance would only cost the government about $2.7 billion per year.