Submission to Senate Community Affairs Committee on legislation to enable $25 per week increase to JobSeeker payment

Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia made a submission in response to the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Strengthening Income Support) Bill 2021. The bill’s purpose is to enact the Government’s announced $25 per week increase to the JobSeeker income support payment.

COTA acknowledges the Bill’s $25 per week increase to the JobSeeker and other working age payments as the first real term increase in 26 years. Any permanent increase to JobSeeker is good news for unemployed Australians, but $25 is not enough to prevent job seekers, including tens of thousands of older Australians, falling into poverty.

The need for a substantial rise in the unemployment payment is more urgent than an ever given the COVID pandemic. In September 2019 and in March 2020 COTA Australia reaffirmed the need for a permanent $75 per week increase in the payment, at a minimum. COTA remains convinced that such an amount is still what’s needed for people to meet the basic costs of living. We have attached for your information our September 2019 submission to your committee which discusses this need in greater detail.

COTA would also like to acknowledge that ACOSS and the Raise the Rate for Good Campaign (of which we are a member) has called for a more substantial increase to lift the rate of JobSeeker to $65 per day. Such an increase would certainly raise older JobSeeker recipients out of poverty. We welcome any and all measures that alleviate poverty amongst older Australians, who for reasons of age discrimination are often left out of the workforce permanently in later years of working age.

COTA also submitted that three additional issues have not been addressed by this Bill and the Committee consider amendments to the legislation:

  1. Index the rate of JobSeeker in line with indexation for pensioners
  2. Amend the bill to remove the Liquid Assets Waiting Period
  3. Raise the Maximum Rate of Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA)

COTA Australia appeared before a Senate Inquiry discussing the bill on Tuesday 9 March 2021 to discuss its proposal.