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Australia’s unemployment benefit will increase by $50 a fortnight following a lengthy campaign from the federal opposition, economists and the welfare lobby, according to reports.
For a single, non-renter with no dependents, that would take the fortnightly base rate from $565 to $615, or $43.93 a day - a daily increase of almost $4 a day.
The increase is substantially lower than the $715 JobSeeker recipients are currently receiving which includes the $150 Coronavirus Supplement that expires at the end of March.
At its highest level, the Coronavirus Supplement was valued at $550 a fortnight, essentially doubling JobSeeker to daily payments of nearly $80 a day and $1,115 a fortnight.
However, the Coronavirus Supplement was reduced first in September 2020 and then again at the beginning of the year.
The Government is expected to make an official announcement on Tuesday following its party room meeting.
The Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) has lobbied for an increase of $350 a fortnight, to $65 a day.
ACOSS warned that even at its current, elevated level, JobSeeker is still leaving Australians behind.
“People on JobSeeker are being forced to make impossible decisions, choosing between housing, food, medications, basic toiletries and paying bills,” CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said.
“The Government’s decision will impact millions who have the least, including hundreds of thousands of children whose parents are locked out of paid work, people with a disability, students, older workers, people with a chronic illness, single parents, people from all walks of life.”
The Australian Unemployed Workers Union is seeking an $80-a-day payment and has expressed dismay at the new reported figures.
“We will fight the Morrison Government harder than we ever have before for social security above the #80aDay poverty line and an end to the brutal ‘mutual’ obligations regime,” the union said.
The new JobSeeker rate is expected to be applied from 1 April and will cost $9 billion over four years.
Unemployment falls as JobKeeper end looms
The JobKeeper wage subsidy is also set to expire at the end of March, with warnings that the end of this support mechanism will push more Australians out of work.
“We are not running a blank cheque budget,’’ Morrison said in early February.
“You can’t run the Australian economy on taxpayers’ money forever.”