'New' JobSeeker Payment fails to lift people out of poverty
The Uniting Church Assembly joins UnitingCare Australia in expressing disappointment that the base rate of the JobSeeker payment will increase by a mere $3.60 a day.
“One of our key learnings from the pandemic has been that we are only as strong and healthy as the most vulnerable members of our society,” said UCA President Dr Deidre Palmer.
“The extra support delivered by the Government throughout the pandemic has been a lifeline for many Australians. COVID-19 highlighted in a new way that people who are unemployed need adequate funds in order to live with dignity, remain healthy and participate in society.”
This week the Federal Government announced it would increase JobSeeker and related payments by $50 a fortnight, lifting the base rate to $615 a fortnight, or $44 a day. However, when the Coronavirus Supplement ends in March, those on JobSeeker will lose $100 a fortnight.
“In 2020, we released our Build Back Better statement which called for a fair and permanent increase to JobSeeker to ensure a safety net for people out of work, but these changes fail to live up to those hopes,” said Dr Palmer.
“We need to do better.”
In recent months, UnitingCare Australia has joined other community sector agencies in calling for a permanent rise to the JobSeeker payment.
This week UnitingCare joined Anglicare Australia in condemning the changes that they say will plunge people into poverty.
UnitingCare Australia National Director Claerwen Little said the announcement was a devastating blow to individuals and families struggling to make ends meet.
“Unemployment payments need to be above the poverty line. Increasing the base rate by a mere $3.60 a day is not enough to lift people out of poverty.
“As one of the largest networks of community service providers nationally, we have seen first-hand the positive impact of the Coronavirus Supplement,” said Ms Little.
“One of our services spoke about a young father who is the sole carer of his three small children. He said the impact of the JobSeeker supplement meant that instead of living life on the edge, he has been enabled to be a better father.”
“No one deserves to live in poverty. We need a permanent, adequate increase to JobSeeker that actually enables people to meet their needs and live with dignity.”
Two weeks ago, UnitingCare and Anglicare called on the Government to raise the rate of JobSeeker after releasing research which showed people on the old rate of JobSeeker, which has been frozen for nearly three decades, had forced people to skip meals because their payments were so low.
Many were left with as little as $7 a day after paying their rent. Others were forced to couch-surf. Read the FULL REPORT below.