JobSeeker payments to be permanently raised by $50 a fortnight

The Federal Government has announced the permanent raise of the JobSeeker payment by $50 a fortnight when the coronavirus supplement ends next month.

The $50 base rate increase will begin on 1 April and will be applied to JobSeeker, Youth Allowance, Austudy, Abstudy, and parenting payments. It is estimated to cost the Government around $9 billion over four years.

However, the newly-increased benefit will still drop below the current rate of $715 a fortnight when the $150 coronavirus supplement expires at the end of March, averaging out to $43/day, which is only $3/day more than pre-pandemic payments.

$50 note (1)
Photo: RBA

This news comes at a time when there have been renewed calls from Labor, the Greens, welfare groups, and even RBA governor Philip Lowe – who said “cutting the JobSeeker rate back to $40 a day would create a fairness issue” – for a permanent increase to the benefit.

The Australian Council of Social Service has previously called for the permanent increase to JobSeeker of at least $25 per day, while the Australian Unemployed Workers Union – backed by the Greens – wanted it raised to $80 a day. It’s safe to say that the $50 increase will be a disappointment to many, as the new JobSeeker payment still places vulnerable Australians below the poverty line.

It’s understood other possible changes, like revoking pandemic-era means testing and income threshold, that could accompany the increase to benefits have not yet been finalised. Such changes could ultimately alter the final, net benefit received by Australians.