People receiving the JobSeeker payment will have to wait until after next month’s Federal Budget to find out whether it will be boosted permanently.
- JobSeeker payments will drop next week as a fortnightly COVID-19 supplement is reduced
- Next month’s Budget won’t shed any light on how much people on JobSeeker will be paid next year
- Government promises more support for people on the aged pension
A $550-a-fortnight supplement introduced in response to COVID-19 will drop to $250 next week and is due to run out altogether at the end of the year.
The Prime Minister has previously indicated JobSeeker was unlikely to return to the pre-pandemic rate of about $40 a day, however, Social Services Minister Anne Ruston said a decision would not be made as part of the Budget on October 6.
“There’s still much that we don’t know about where the pandemic’s going to end and what Australia is going to look like,” she said.
“So we remain very focussed on making sure that the measures that we have in place reflect the conditions at the time, and decisions about anything ongoing will be a matter for the time once the economy has settled and we know what a post-pandemic Australia looks like.”
Australian Council of Social Service chief executive Cassandra Goldie criticised the timing of the decision, arguing people need more certainty now.
“It’s very important the Government understands that people today are worried and very worried now about what the future holds for them,” Ms Goldie said.
“We can’t give them all the answers but the Government does have within its control today to provide assurances and certainty for people that they intend, quickly, to deliver a permanent adequate increase.”
More support promised for pensioners
The Government has promised the Budget will include more support for people on the aged pension, who will not receive an automatic increase to their payments tomorrow.
Pensions are normally indexed on March 20 and September 20 each year to ensure they keep up with the cost of living, however, the pandemic means the measures used to calculate the increase have gone backwards.
Senator Ruston said pensioners had already received two $750 cash payments as part of the Government’s coronavirus response and that more help would be unveiled soon.
“We recognise that pensioners rely and depend very heavily on the increases that they get twice yearly, that’s why provisions have been made in the Budget to make sure that we support our pensioners going forward.”
Shadow Social Services spokeswoman Linda Burney said an announcement should have been made already.
“Some vague reference that it’s going to be looked at in the Budget is just not good enough,” Ms Burney said.
“People need to know now, because the freeze comes in as of tomorrow.”