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JobSeeker Payment is the main income support payment for people without any or enough paid work between 22 years old and Age Pension age. JobSeeker was previously known as the Newstart Allowance.

As at July 2023, there were 804,155 people receiving the JobSeeker Payment and about 224,755 people receiving Youth Allowance. Of people receiving JobSeeker Payment:

  • 51% are 45 years or older
  • 44% have a disability or illness that prevents them from being able to work full time
  • 70% have had to rely on income support for 12 months or more.

At September 2023, Jobseeker Payment plus the Energy Supplement added up to $375 a week or around $54 a day.

ACOSS is calling for a permanent and adequate increase to JobSeeker, Youth Allowance, Austudy, Abstudy, Special Benefit and Parenting Payment.

JobSeeker and these other payments should increase to at least $78 a day (the Age Pension rate).

In addition to the base rate increase, there should be supplementary payments paid to people with disability and illness and single parents that reflect the additional costs they face. Commonwealth Rent Assistance should also be increased by 50%.

The only supplementary payment that everyone on JobSeeker Payment receives is the Energy Supplement of $9 per week. Even with this payment, JobSeeker is just $54 a day.

The second most common payment is Commonwealth Rent Assistance, which is a payment available to people receiving income support who rent privately or live in community housing. Just 38% of people on JobSeeker receive Commonwealth Rent Assistance. With an increase from 20 September 2023, the maximum rate of this payment is $85 per week for a single person. However, to receive this, you must pay more than twice that amount ($175pw) in rent.

Ensuring income support payments are adequate to cover the basics will not act as a disincentive to employment.

Jobseeker is much lower than the minimum wage

At present, JobSeeker Payment is just 42% of the minimum wage. If JobSeeker was permanently lifted to $76 a day, it would be less than two-thirds of the minimum wage. This means that people will still be better off financially in paid work.

Professor Jeff Borland conducted research on the effect of higher income support payments on the take-up of paid work among people on JobSeeker Payment when they received the Coronavirus Supplement. He found there was no discernible effect on movement into paid work, which was on par with what it was pre-pandemic.

The inadequate rate of JobSeeker Payment acts as a barrier to getting paid work

The low rate of income support creates a barrier to paid work because the constant financial stress people on JobSeeker face as well as the inability to pay for healthcare and medicine harms their mental and physical health. JobSeeker Payment is so low at $54 a day that people are unable to pay rent and bills or cover the cost of fresh food. Buying petrol or fixing the car is nearly impossible, as is buying suitable clothing for a job interview or even getting a haircut.

An adequate rate of JobSeeker and other income support payments will help people cover the basics while they reskill, care for children, study, or search for paid work.

Do you advocate for pensioners?

What is indexation?

When you say, ‘JobSeeker has not increased in real terms’ what does this mean?

Why does this matter for the rate of JobSeeker and other payments?