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Research shows 260,000 Australians at risk of slipping below the poverty line

The Greens have released new research showing up to 260,000 single parents, students and jobseekers in locked-down states of NSW, Victoria and SA who are barred from emergency lockdown payments could lose hundreds of dollars a week and slip below the poverty line.

The Greens are calling on the Morrison government to reinstate JobSeeker at $1,100 a fortnight and reintroduce JobKeeper.

Quotes attributable to Greens Leader Adam Bandt:

“By refusing to bring back full JobKeeper and JobSeeker, Scott Morrison is throwing the poorest Australians to the wolves.

“In locked down states, people already living in poverty are now getting their income cut even further. These people are already doing it tough and now Scott Morrison is making them take another hit.”

“No-one should be forced to live through the pandemic in poverty. $1,500 a fortnight JobKeeper and $1,100 JobSeeker were needed to get people through the pandemic last year and they’re needed again now.”

“As quarantine failures hit unvaccinated populations, these are the Morrison Lockdowns and he shouldn’t be making people on low incomes pay for his mistakes.”

Research

Our analysis shows the following groups will be hit especially hard as a result of the failure to reinstate the full rates of JobKeeper and JobSeeker paid last year:

  • There are 1.77 million people in the locked down states (Vic, SA & NSW) receiving some form of income support payment. Most are now living below the poverty line and all ineligible for any form of disaster relief payment. The bulk of them (eg JobSeeker & Youth Allowance recipients) would have received the full coronavirus supplement on top of their payments last year. Someone on JobSeeker now has to survive lockdown on $621 per fortnight instead of the $1,100 they’d have received last year. 
  • At least 260,190 single parents, students and jobseekers in these states had been earning an income from work while receiving part-payments of some form of income support. These people stand to receive a substantial cut to their incomes if they lose work during lockdown. For example, someone on JobSeeker earning $250/fn would have had a pre-lockdown income of $821/fn ($621 JobSeeker plus $250 less the 50% taper rate applicable to income earned over $150: source). If they lose their work, their income will drop from $821 to $621, a drop of almost 25%. They are ineligible for the new disaster relief payment. They could have received either $1,100 or $1,500 last year. 
  • An income support recipient losing a 7 hour shift will fare badly. For someone on Youth Allowance working a 7 hour shift at basic award wage, for example, their income plummets from $542 per week to $330. Last year they would have received between $573 and $670 per week.

People working just under 20 hours per week who lose their work during lockdown will struggle as a result of the design of the new scheme. A hairdresser working on basic award rates at 19 hours a week, for example, spread across weekend and weekdays, could have earned $679 per week. Under the old JobKeeper, they would have maintained their income at $1,500 per fortnight. Now, their income will plummet to a maximum $375 per week, almost cut in half. (Meanwhile, median rent for a 1 bedroom unit in Sydney is $430)

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