The Federal Government’s JobKeeper payment scheme has ended, with a reduced JobSeeker set to cushion the blow of an expected rise in job losses. A year after the program started amid the coronavirus pandemic, the critical payment scheme has come to an end after gradually being scaled down from an original payment of $1500 per employee per fortnight for eligible businesses, to $1000 or $650 per fortnight.
With its end, nearly one million Australians have lost access to the program and as many as 150,000 people nationally could lose their jobs as a result, according to the federal Treasury. The increase is expected to put a dent on an improved jobless rate.
It comes as the JobSeeker payment scheme receives a reduction today, after a $150 coronavirus supplement expired at the end of March. The program has, however, received a permanent $50 fortnightly increase in payments.
Social services organisations believe the small, permanent increase to JobSeeker will lock job seekers back into poverty and ultimately signals a reduction to the rate. ac.care chief executive Shane Maddocks said the charitable organisation was already seeing rent stress and a lack of affordable housing “pushing people to the brink of homelessness” in regional areas, before the reduction in JobSeeker.
“The government lifted people out of poverty in 2020 with the coronavirus co-payments, but now these same people are having their payments cut again to almost half of the poverty line,” Mr Maddocks said. “It’s simply not good enough and does not do enough to protect and support vulnerable people in our community or give them hope for a better future.”