Cut to JobSeeker to Push Further 155,000 into Poverty

New economic modelling commissioned by the Australia Institute from Communities in Numbers, shows the effective $100 per fortnight cut to JobSeeker, scheduled to take effect on 1 April 2021, will push a further 155,000 people into poverty – including 20,000 children.

This choice by the Government will mean there will be over a million more people living in poverty compared to March 2020, and 580,000 more people in poverty compared to before the global pandemic.

Key Findings:

  • Scrapping the coronavirus supplement and replacing it with a $50 per fortnight increase in the base rate represents a $100 per fortnight cut to the current JobSeeker rate. This cut, due to take effect 1 April 2021, will push a further 155,000 into poverty, meaning the number of people in poverty will have increased by over a million from its low in March 2020, and will be approximately 580,000 more people living in poverty than before the pandemic began.
  • When the Government introduced the coronavirus supplement in March 2020 it lifted more people out of poverty than any other single government policy. Almost half a million people were lifted out of poverty including 75,000 children aged 0 to 14.
People in Poverty in Australia
Figure — People in poverty in Australia

“The Government’s coronavirus supplement in March 2020 lifted more Australians out of poverty than any other single government policy measure. In fact, this one policy measure shows that whether to leave Australians to live in poverty is a government choice,” said Matt Grudnoff, senior economist at the Australia Institute.

“If instead of cutting the coronavirus supplement, the Government had instead chosen to restore the full $550 supplement, then half a million Australians would be lifted out of poverty, including 90,000 children.

“The Government has a choice. It can sentence more than a million Australians to living in poverty, including hundreds of thousands of children. Or it can make the same choice they made last year and show that Australia is a compassionate country and spare these people that fate.”

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