The $550 Coronavirus Supplement was initially touted to last six months, however the Department of Social Services revealed to a Senate Select Committee on Covid-19 that it will now last for just five.
The legislative end date for the period of the supplement is 24 September, five months after payments were stipulated to flow from (27 April). This means some eligible Australians may receive $1,100 less than they had planned for.
What’s more, some eligible JobSeekers won’t be receiving their extra payment until 11 May, Senator for the Greens, Rachel Siewert, highlighted.
“So, in other words, they do miss out,” Siewert said.
“If they're one of a group that has to report near 11 May, they actually will miss out on at least one payment.”
The Senate Committee also addressed the ambiguity as to payment times, something which caused confusion as to when payments would flow.
Treasury documents and Services Australia said the amount would be paid “from 27 April,” leading many to believe that the supplement would be paid that day.
Those who had signed up for the extra supplement however were surprised to see just their regular JobSeeker amount in their bank accounts.
Centrelink confirmed on Twitter that the supplement was to be paid once Aussies had reported for the period that included 27 April.
“People expected to get the new supplement this week; they weren't told this information at all. Now they'll have to starve/wait for another two weeks?” JobSeeker Jeremy Heywood tweeted at the time.
The Department of Social Services said in a social media post that payments would align with reporting periods, meaning some would receive their payments on 27 April, others on the 28 April, and others on 6 May.
“I agree that there may have been some confusion,” Secretary for the Department of Social Services, Kathryn Campbell said to the Senate Committee.
“I note that sometimes, when we're doing things very quickly, we don't get the wording quite right.”
The Department of Social Services said it would look to “clarify” the ambiguity on some websites, which caused confusion as to when payments would flow.
Yahoo Finance has contacted the Department of Social Services for comment.
Government told JobSeeker must be raised permanently
This comes as the government is told JobSeeker must be raised, after a Senate Inquiry report into the adequacy of Newstart found too many Aussies on income support were living in poverty.
“The committee recommends that once the Coronavirus Supplement is phased out, the Australian Government increase the JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance and Parenting Payment rates to ensure that all eligible recipients do not live in poverty,” the Senate stated.
However, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has previously stated the JobSeeker Payment will return to pre-coronavirus levels once the pandemic subsides.
When asked whether the increased level of JobSeeker would extend further than six months, the prime minister said: “We put a Covid supplement in place for the period of the pandemic and that's what we've budgeted for and that's what our policy is.”