A new report has said that the removal of Jobseeker could see more than 650,000 pushed into poverty, as the government eyes a September end-date for the stimulus package.
Perhaps most significantly of all, of that 650,000 figure pushed below the poverty line with the removal of JobSeeker, 120,000 children under the age of 14 could be caught up, too.
The latest round of data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that there is close to a million unemployed Australians, and that the real-time unemployment rate is significantly higher than the government’s 7.4% official rate.
The number of Australians accessing the JobSeeker payment doubled from 800,000 in March to 1.6 million in June.
The report comes from the Australia Institute, and says that the number of Australians living below the poverty line before the pandemic was sitting around 3.7 million, which decreased to 3.3 million “by increasing one payment,” in reference to the JobSeeker payment.
Amongst its predictions are that removing the JobSeeker payment would force 650,000 into poverty, including 120,000 children. The institute also predicts that up to 242,000 renters and 246,000 mortgage holders will be forced into poverty.
The report also states that for every job vacancy, there are 13 unemployed people.
“If the supplement is removed, there is little doubt that for many Australians it will become increasingly difficult for people to pay a mortgage or pay for rent. This will not only mean a likely increase in homelessness but also increasing pressure on the banking system,” the report notes.
“This would have a knock-on effect to those who own residential investment properties. Investment property owners also face consequences as a result of the ending of the coronavirus supplement”
The report also states that “an increase to the base rate of $75 a week, as the media reports that the government is considering, will ameliorate the impacts of the removal of the coronavirus supplement but will not stop hundreds of thousands of Australians being pushed into poverty.”
Over the weekend, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann indicated that the current raft of government stimulus measures were “not an ongoing arrangement.” This is in spite of the fact that research indicates that the programs saved 425,000 Australians from poverty.
It’s expected the government will make an announcement as to the future of the JobSeeker and JobKeeper payments today.
“Once we get to the end of September it will be a matter of making sure that any ongoing support is appropriately targeted to those businesses who genuinely need it,” he said.
Ben Oquist, executive director of the Australia Institute has said that “the coronavirus supplement has been an essential part of our nation’s response to this recession and has improved the lives of nearly half a million Australians.”
“In fact, no other government has ever lifted so many people out of poverty so quickly,” he said.
“Removing the supplement would put more than 600,000 Australians, including more than 100,000 children, into poverty. This will not only have serious negative social effects for decades to come but makes terrible economic policy by effectively withdrawing much needed stimulus,” Oquist continued to explain.
“Our research shows that even if the government removes the supplement but increases the old rate of JobSeeker by $75 a week there will be a half a million person increase in poverty.”