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JobSeeker decision plunges millions into poverty

Announcements today that the Federal Government will replace the $75 per week Coronavirus Supplement with a $25 per week permanent increase will plunge up to 3 million Australians, including 1 million children,  into poverty.  Even with full rent assistance and energy supplement, this will take a single person to a maximum of $54 a day, $11 a day below the poverty line of $65 for a single person.

APW Executive Director Toni Wren said: “The Government has missed an historic opportunity to right the wrong of children  growing up in poverty and consigned far too many Australians to a shocking struggle to put food on their table, pay their rent and search for work.”

The changes will also cut the amount people can earn while receiving unemployment payments. This had increased to $300 per fortnight under COVID changes in 2020 but will reduce to $150 per fortnight from 1 April 2021.  This contradicts the Government’s intention to encourage people back into any available job and will further reduce income for more than 20% of current recipients who have some earnings from work.

In Australia, the poverty line is generally defined as 50% of median household income.  Before deducting housing costs, in 2017-18 this was

  • $457 a week for a single adult ($65 a day);
  • $731 for a sole parent with two children ($104 a day); or
  • $960 for a couple with two children ($137 a day).

See table below plus more in our updated briefing here.

Contact: Toni Wren ed@antipovertyweek.org.au for media interviews.

Assume single, no dependents, renting privately Max Weekly amount from 1/1/-31/3/21 Max Weekly amount with $25 per week ($50 a fortnight increase)
JobSeeker Payment $282.85 $282.85
Rent Assistance (if paying at least $155.37 rent pw) $69.80 $69.80
Energy Supplement $4.40 $4.40
Total without Coronavirus Supplement $357.05 $357.05
Coronavirus Supplement /Permanent increase $75.00 $25.00
Total with Coronavirus Supplement/Permanent increase $432.05 $382.05
Daily rate $61 $54