ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

Media release: Looming JobSeeker cuts to cost over 1,000 Canberra jobs and plunge people into poverty

15 September 2020

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) has called on the Federal Government to scrap looming cuts to the JobSeeker payment that would plunge thousands of Canberrans into poverty and damage the ACT’s economic recovery.

The call follows the release of research by Deloitte Access Economics that highlights the economic impact of planned government cuts to the Coronavirus Supplement on 25 September and the full removal of the Supplement at the end of December.

The report shows that in 2021-22 in the ACT, cuts to JobSeeker will result in reduced consumption per person by $504, reduced economic output per person by $382 and the loss of 1,120 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs.

According to ACTCOSS CEO Dr Emma Campbell: “Research released today by Deloitte Access Economics shows that cuts to JobSeeker will cost over one thousand jobs in the ACT at a time when we need to be sparking economic activity and job growth.

“The introduction of the $550 per fortnight Coronavirus Supplement from 27 April to 24 September 2020 saw JobSeeker (formerly Newstart) rise above the poverty line by $105 per week – finally becoming adequate to meet basic living costs.

“It’s been a silver lining in an otherwise disastrous year for people on low incomes.

“We know that people on low incomes spend additional earnings on essentials like food, clothing and household goods. The Coronavirus Supplement has also boosted the ACT’s economy and helped protect jobs.

“The reduction of the Supplement by $300 per fortnight from 25 September 2020 will see these payments drop below the poverty line again by around $45 per week. The complete removal of the supplement at the end of the year would see this poverty gap increase to $170 per week.

“From December 2019 and July 2020, people in the ACT looking for employment on JobSeeker and Youth Allowance more than doubled from just over 6,500 to just under 15,000.

“Without the Supplement, the number of people in the ACT living below the poverty line could increase by around 25%, approaching 40,000.

“Over the past five years costs for housing in Canberra have increased by 15% – take away the Supplement and there is no housing affordable to job seekers.

“Cuts to income support will mean that in just a few days a growing number of job seekers in our city will again be forced into sad and drastic choices in their lives – between paying the rent, heating and cooling, transport, going to the doctors or new clothes for a child.

“These cuts to JobSeeker are bad for poverty levels, bad for jobs and bad for Canberra,” Dr Campbell said.

Access the Deloitte Access Economics report here.

Read the results from an ACOSS survey highlighting the impacts of proposed cuts to JobSeeker.

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.