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Centrelink increase in budget gets a major push

ACOSS is calling on welfare payments to be increased in the federal budget.

A composite image of a Centrelink sign and logo ont he exterior of a building and Australian currency.
More than 350 people, including politicians, have called on the government to increase Centrelink payments. (Source: Getty)

The cost of living has hit those on Centrelink payments hard, with $50 a day not even enough to cover basic expenses, according to the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS).

In an open letter to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, ACOSS said failure to lift the JobSeeker payment would result in “increased deprivation”.

“We all want the security of knowing that we’ll be supported during tough times. But right now, the rate of income support is so low that people are being forced to choose between paying their rent or buying enough food and medicine,” the letter reads.

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“As a result, people experience chronic mental and physical health issues, they’re forced into homelessness and insecure housing, trapped with abusive partners, and locked out of paid work because they don’t have the money they need to retrain and re-enter the workforce.”

Currently, for a single person, JobSeeker is $49.50 per day and Youth Allowance is $40.20 per day.

“It is long past time that we addressed this structural injustice. Even before the cost-of-living crisis, income support payments weren’t nearly enough to cover basic expenses, but now people struggling to get by on $50 a day face increased deprivation,” ACOSS said.

“In the last 12 months, rents in capital cities have risen by about 22 per cent and food prices have skyrocketed. While everyone in our community is feeling the impact of these cost-of-living pressures, people on income support are going without food and other basics because they have nothing left to cut back on in their budget.”

ACOSS research found that seven in 10 people on income support were eating less or reporting difficulty getting medicine or care.

ACOSS said around 80 per cent of people who received JobSeeker, stayed on the payment for 12 months or more.

In December last year, Anglicare found there were 15 jobseekers competing for each entry-level role.

“The longer people remain on income support, the harder it is to transition back into paid work. But at $50 a day, the current rate of JobSeeker isn’t even enough to cover the essentials like weekly food and medicines, let alone get a haircut, or buy a new shirt for a job interview,” the letter said.

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