Higher JobSeeker Rate Must Be Permanent: Anglicare Australia

By Victoria Kelly-Clark
Victoria Kelly-Clark
Victoria Kelly-Clark
Victoria Kelly-Clark is an Australian based reporter who focuses on national politics and the geopolitical environment in the Asia-pacific region, the Middle East and Central Asia.
September 1, 2020Updated: September 1, 2020

Anglicare Australia makes the case in a new report that renting is unaffordable amid the CCP virus pandemic for people who earn a low income or receive various forms of welfare payments, and pushes for the higher rates to become permanent.

With the current higher rate of government support costing billions of dollars per month, Prime Minister Scott Morrison says it cannot go on forever.

“I think Australians understand that. They know that a current scheme that is burning cash, their cash, taxpayers’ cash to the tune of some $11 billion a month cannot go on forever. Australians understand that,” Morrison said.

Anglicare claims that, contrary to the opinion of commentators, Australia is not currently experiencing a renters market.

Instead, it suggests that for those receiving welfare support payments at the current temporarily elevated rate only one percent rental properties listed were affordable.

Some of those federal government support payments are set to reduce, such as JobKeeper, JobSeeker, and the Coronavirus Supplement—an amount provided in addition to regular payments—which decreases from $550 a fortnight to $250 a fortnight starting from Sept. 24.

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People wait in line to enter Centrelink in Melbourne, Australia, on March 24, 2020. (Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

“Renters have found themselves on the frontlines of the economic collapse wrought by the Coronavirus. They are much more likely to be in low-paid or insecure work, and many now face an impossible situation: Not only losing income, but at risk of losing their homes,” stated the report (pdf), released on Aug. 31.

The survey also observed that only 625 properties are affordable for a person who is currently on the aged pension, and 192 properties were affordable for someone on the disability support pension.

Anglicare is calling on the government to keep the increased rate for JobSeeker permanently. They are also calling for it to be extended to those with disabilities and age pensioners, declaring that this will help keep people housed, stop poverty, and keep them from making bad life choices.

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A woman sits on the pavement as a woman behind her withdraws money from an ATM machine in Melbourne, Australia on Aug. 31, 2009. (Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Morrison has flagged changes to JobSeeker and other support payments will be addressed in the upcoming October budget.

Anglicare Australia Executive Director Kasy Chambers said in the report: “This is a historic pandemic, and it demands a historic and structural response. Increases to JobSeeker and other payments must become permanent, and they must be expanded to everyone in need.”

Currently, Chambers noted that renters are on the frontline of the pandemic in Australia with many set to lose their incomes, and potentially their homes.

“Rent deferrals and eviction moratoriums are ending soon, with many in arrears for thousands of dollars. Some are facing cuts to JobSeeker, while others—age pensioners, people with disability, and those earning the minimum wage—were left out of the Government’s response altogether,” she said.

“It is time for governments to take real action, and ensure every Australian has a home,” said Chambers.