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Centrelink recipients to cop budget blow: ‘Can’t fund everything’

An independent advisory committee has called on JobSeeker payments to be lifted.

A composite image of Treasurer Jim Chalmers and a Centrelink sign on the exterior of a building.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers is expected to turn down a recommendation to raise Centrelink JobSeeker payments. (Source: AAP / Getty)

Centrelink recipients who were hoping to see a boost to the JobSeeker payment in next month's federal budget are expected to be let down, despite growing cost-of-living pressures.

The Interim Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee (IEIAC) suggested raising the JobSeeker payment in the budget from around $50 a day to around $68 a day, but Federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers is expected to turn down the recommendation.

Raising the JobSeeker payment to $68 a day would cost the government around $24 billion over four years.

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The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) said it welcomed the IEIAC report and encouraged the government to raise the JobSeeker rate as a first priority.

“With 3 million people living in poverty in Australia, there is no time for delay,” ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie said.

“The clear message from the [IEIAC] is that JobSeeker and related payments are grossly inadequate. They entrench people in poverty and create a barrier to paid work for people looking for a job.

“The Committee heard directly from people receiving these payments, including many who are routinely skipping meals, and forgoing essential medication and health care just to keep a roof over their head or pay their energy bill.

“In this budget the treasurer has the chance to reduce poverty and suffering in this country. He must act now.”

‘We can’t fund everything’

Chalmers has repeatedly said the upcoming budget will focus on belt-tightening as the government attempts to get skyrocketing debt under control.

“While we can’t fund every good idea, there will be measures in the May budget to address disadvantage,” Chalmers and Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said in a statement on the advisory committee’s report.

They said the government would always look to support those most in need, where it was responsible and affordable to do so.

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