‘Cruel act’: JobSeeker slashed again by $100 a fortnight
Exclusive: Older Australians are among those struggling the most to find work and are still relying on JobSeeker payments which will be cut again today.
The Federal Government's coronavirus supplement which is provided on top of JobSeeker - previously known as Newstart - will be reduced by $100 down to $150 a fortnight.
New Department of Social Services figures showed 44,000 fewer people received welfare payments in November - the number of Australians on JobSeeker and youth allowance fell from 1.498 million in October to 1.454 million in November, a drop of 2.9 per cent.
But just 5000 of those Australians aged 55 and over - or a drop of 0.8 per cent of this age group - came off welfare in November compared to the previous month.
This is compared to other age groups where many more people returned to work, especially 25 to 34-year-olds. In that age bracket, 12,800 fewer people relied on JobSeeker - a drop of 3.8 per cent.
The JobSeeker payment is a fortnightly payment of at least $565.70 for singles with no children.
The amended coronavirus supplement until December took it up to $815.70 a fortnight, but it will now fall to $715.70.
Financial Counselling Australia's chief executive officer Fiona Guthrie said it's "cruel" to slash welfare payments.
"It's definitely going to make it harder to make ends meet, we're expecting the National Debt Helpline will start getting a lot busier once government income support reduces," she said.
"People don't have enough money to live on, it's impossible.
"This is almost the worst time to be trying to manage on less money because you have Christmas bills coming in and children going back to school."
Social Services Minister Anne Ruston said it was good to see Australians shifting off welfare payments and returning into work.
"It is pleasing that we are seeing Australians moving off of social security payments and back into the workforce as economic confidence builds and the labour market outlook improves," she said.
"As we go forward the Government's absolute focus is on jobs creation through JobMaker and helping people to re-skill through JobTrainer because we know that getting a job is a real game changer in anyone's life."
National Seniors Australia's spokesman Ian Henschke said many older Australians struggle to get work because employers had become "ageist".
"Now that people have lost their jobs and are trying to get back into work it's not surprising this is happening," he said.
Gasser Elkharibi, 28, is one of the tens of thousands of Australians who returned to the workforce in the October quarter.
The 28-year-old was made redundant from his job as a projects manager in July and was reliant on welfare for the first time in his life.
"I applied for about 25 to 30 jobs before I got my job now," Mr Elkharibi said.
"I've worked my whole life, I have a mortgage and loans and responsibilities, it was very scary and not working and sitting at home demotivates you.
"This was my first time receiving assistance, but I'm ecstatic to be back at work now."
He took on a permanent full-time role as area and projects manager at eatery Burgertory in Prahran in Melbourne.
But Small Business Australia founder Amanda Rose said the figures highlighted that it was harder for many older Australians to get back into the workforce post pandemic.
"People who are over 50, they are less likely to get a job, they are looking for work and the have a better work ethic and want to work but people aren't hiring them," she said.
"There are jobs out there especially for the younger ones, but I work with women who are 50 plus and they can't get a job, they can't get an interview."
For aged pensioners the fortnightly money they receive is higher than JobSeeker payments with the coronavirus supplement.
The aged pension fortnightly base rate is $860.60 for a single person or $22,375 a year.
For couples it's $1297.40 a fortnight or $33,732 a year.
Comparatively JobSeeker with the reduced coronavirus supplement will be about $145 less than the aged pension for a single person at $715.70 a fortnight.
Females (Nov) Males (Nov) October total November total Change
Total recipients 690,900 764,000 1,498,000 1,454,900 -43,100
Under 25 129,800 153,700 295,000 283,500 -11,500
25-34 130,600 191,200 334,600 321,800 -12,800
35-44 126,100 146,400 272,500 280,500 -8000
45-54 143,700 130,400 280,700 274,100 -6600
55-64 143,500 127,200 275,700 270,700 -5000
65 and over 17,100 15,000 32,400 32,100 -300
Source: Department of Social Services, 2020, numbers rounded up.
Originally published as 'Cruel act': JobSeeker slashed again by $100 a fortnight