With the end of JobKeeper and the coronavirus supplement looming at the end of March, the government is proposing to permanently raise JobSeeker by $25 per week, rather than the $25 per day called for by ACOSS’s Raise the Rate campaign. While it is a raise on pre-COVID payments, it is effectively a cut, as the coronavirus supplement ceases at the same time.
In a submission to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee about the proposed Strengthening Income Support Bill 2021, (submissions have now closed), The Snow Foundation is calling for a more significant, immediate and permanent increase to social welfare payments. We also call for the removal of barriers to accessing social welfare payments, such as waiting periods and third-party verifications.
Our arguments are:
- A bigger increase is needed: JobSeeker and related income support payments should be closer to the aged pension rate levels to ensure everyone can cover the basics.
- It makes economic sense: Raising social welfare payments puts money back into the economy, because people who have little, spend any extra money they get on essentials. It creates jobs because the money is spent in businesses that employ people. And it gives people a chance to look up from their daily struggle to survive to actually find a job.
- It’s the right thing to do: A family can’t live on less than $44 per day – it condemns more than a million people to struggle for survival well below the poverty line. Children suffer disproportionately from the lack of security, unmet basic needs and high levels of stress their carers are under.
Committing to a more significant permanent increase closer to the aged pension levels would inject more money into the economy, create jobs and reduce financial stress and suffering significantly for thousands of families struggling well below the poverty line.
Many of our partners have seen the positive impact the increased COVID payments had on the community, such as Pat Hall from the Liverpool Neighbourhood Centre in Sydney:
“The coronavirus supplement was fantastic. On this benefit, people felt they could contribute to society. They weren’t living below the poverty line. They had self-worth, they counted. I could see it in people, they could buy things that they couldn’t before, they weren’t luxury items, of course not, just the basics for survival but they could survive and not stress and actually look for jobs.”
It’s the right thing to do – for our country, and for our most vulnerable people and there is broad consensus across Australia for a permanent, more appropriate increase.
Let’s live our Australian values and give people a fair go.