The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) today condemned the Federal Government’s announcement of a cruel cut to income support payments at Christmas time and has called for a permanent, adequate rate of income support.
The Federal Government announced today that the Coronavirus Supplement, received by people on JobSeeker, Youth Allowance and parenting payments, will be reduced by $100 per fortnight from 31 December until the end of March 2021.
ACTCOSS CEO Dr Emma Campbell said: “The Christmas and new year holiday period, followed by the start of a new school year, is an expensive time for families.
“The number of Canberrans receiving income support while looking for work has more than doubled due to the impacts of COVID-19. Almost 23,000 Canberrans are currently receiving the Coronavirus Supplement.
“This Christmas was already going to be tough for the thousands of Canberrans who have lost jobs and income over the past year. Now they face a further cut to income support on 31 December.
“When first introduced in April, the Coronavirus Supplement of $550 per fortnight protected many people from experiencing poverty if they were without work. When the supplement was reduced by $300 per fortnight in September, the rate of JobSeeker and related income support payments returned to below the poverty line.
“Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was estimated that almost 30,000 people in the ACT were living below the poverty line. More recent analysis indicates that since the reduction in the Coronavirus Supplement in September, the number of Canberrans in poverty has increased to approximately 38,000 people.
“Further reducing the Coronavirus Supplement from the current rate of $250 per fortnight to $150 means that these payments will fall even further below the poverty line, pushing more Canberrans into poverty and pushing people deeper into poverty.
“Building on analysis from ACTCOSS’s 2020 ACT Cost of Living Report, we estimate that this will see payments drop by as much as $147 per week below the poverty line for a young Canberran looking for work while on Youth Allowance, and by as much as $68 below the poverty line for a single parent on JobSeeker.
“Cutting income support at Christmas is a cruel and damaging decision. We need a permanent, adequate rate of income support that keeps people out of poverty and that allows them to cover the basics and rebuild their lives,” Dr Campbell said.
ACTCOSS advocates for social justice in the ACT and represents not-for-profit community organisations.
For more information or comment, please contact
Dr Emma Campbell, CEO, ACTCOSS, on 0424 910 617 or 02 6202 7200.