ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

Media release: Removal of Coronavirus Supplement pushes Canberrans deeper into poverty

31 March 2021

The removal of the Coronavirus supplement comes into effect tomorrow, impacting over 10,000 Canberrans receiving JobSeeker and an additional 9,000 Canberrans receiving other income supports.

“While many Canberrans look forward to the prospect of a relaxing Easter long weekend, for the 10,000 Canberrans on JobSeeker plus other recipients of income support, financial anxiety will be front of mind as they are forced deeper into poverty,” said Dr Emma Campbell, ACTCOSS CEO.

“Despite an increase in the base rate of JobSeeker, the removal of the Coronavirus Supplement effectively represents a $100 per fortnight cut. This leaves Canberrans on JobSeeker with just $312 per week for essentials of life such as housing, food, transport and medical expenses.

“This is $145 below the poverty line – $457 per week for a single person – and well below the amount needed to survive in a city with high costs of living. 

“This rate of income support forces people to cut back on the essentials. No one should have to choose between switching on the heating and buying fresh vegetables, or between paying rent and going to the dentist.

“ACTCOSS has heard from ACT community sector organisations who fear an increase in food stress, housing uncertainty and mental health crises because of this cut.”

Dr Campbell continued: “Alongside the terrible human impact of returning to below-poverty social security payments, there are broader economic impacts for the ACT. We know that additional money given to those on low incomes goes straight to local businesses – to fix the car; new clothes for the kids; replacing a broken appliance. The removal of the supplement and the low level of JobSeeker removes tens of millions of dollars from the ACT economy at a time when many local businesses are struggling.

“ACTCOSS renews its call to Federal Parliament for a permanent, adequate increase to income supports that positions it above the poverty line,” 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.