JobSeeker rise ‘won’t cover’ rising costs

Australia’s peak social services group says a $1.80 a day increase to the JobSeeker unemployment payment will do little to help the poorest people make ends meet.

JobSeeker will rise by almost $2 a day on Monday, in line with indexation linked to inflation, lifting the payment to $48 a day.

But the Australian Council of Social Service warns the payment is still below the poverty line and less than half the nation’s minimum wage.

“An extra $1.80 on an already grossly inadequate income won’t cover the costs of winter energy bills, high fuel prices, medicines, groceries or rent,” acting CEO Edwina MacDonald said.

“We speak regularly to people who cannot eat three meals a day, who cannot afford essential medication and who are in debt with their utility providers because they cannot cover the cost of energy.”

ACOSS is calling on the government to increase JobSeeker to $73 a day.

The government went to the federal election promising to review the payment but has consistently noted budget restraints, with the treasurer saying it couldn’t afford everything it wanted to do.

People on Youth Allowance or Austudy will not see their payments increase in line with indexation until January, prompting calls for action to be taken in the October budget.

“The federal government cannot rely on indexation alone,” MacDonald said.

“They must act by urgently increasing Jobseeker, Youth Allowance and related payments in the October budget to address the acute crisis facing people on the lowest incomes.”


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