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Lockdowns see need for minimum income floor

  • July 13 2021
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Lockdowns see need for minimum income floor

By Cameron Micallef
July 13 2021

The government has been urged to fix COVID income support for those affected by lockdowns, with measures including adding top-ups to the COVID-19 Disaster Payment and extending eligibility vital to ensure no Aussie is left behind. 

Lockdowns see need for minimum income floor

Lockdowns see need for minimum income floor

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  • July 13 2021
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The government has been urged to fix COVID income support for those affected by lockdowns, with measures including adding top-ups to the COVID-19 Disaster Payment and extending eligibility vital to ensure no Aussie is left behind. 

Lockdowns see need for minimum income floor

With Greater Sydney experiencing a lockdown due to a spike in COVID-19 cases, ACOSS has warned the government that it must move quickly to protect vulnerable Australians.

Speaking to the press on Thursday last week, the Prime Minister confirmed support for those in need.

Brought in following Melbourne’s COVID-19 outbreak in May, the COVID-19 Disaster Payment scheme provides eligible individuals with $325 per week for people who lose less than 20 hours of paid work per week due to a lockdown or $500 for people who lose 20 or more hours.

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Importantly, the payment does not cover the first seven days of a lockdown and does not support individuals receiving any form of social security or financial support from the government.

The COVID-19 Disaster Payment also initially excluded those who have more than $10,000 in liquid assets. As of this week, that is no longer the case.

“It doesn’t matter what funds you have available to you in your bank account or that you can readily convert to cash,” Mr Morrison said.

However, ACOSS has questioned the speed and the application of the government’s disaster package, arguing it should be extended to all people who have lost earnings by removing barriers, including the liquid asset test and restrictions for temporary migrants.

They say that people on income support payments need access to an urgent top-up disaster recovery payment so their payment would be equivalent to $475 per week for singles or $718 per week for couples – this is the same as the pension rate and just above the poverty line. Partnered people would receive at least $359 per week each. Family Tax Benefits would be available to those with children.

Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said the government needs to act with the same urgency to deliver an income floor as it did in 2020 when the pandemic began.

“Right now we have almost 400,000 people locked down in Greater Sydney trying to survive on income support payments that are below the poverty line, with many unable to get paid work. We need to lift people out of poverty so that they can afford what they need to stay safe, including keeping a roof over their head,” she said.

“It is not correct to say that people can afford to get through this time round. While some on higher incomes have accumulated savings, many others on lower incomes and in marginal paid work have virtually nothing behind them, with us now over 18 months into this pandemic.”

Ms Goldie highlighted that failure of the government to set a minimum income floor will see thousands of Australians unable to put a roof over their heads.

According to ACOSS, the top-up COVID disaster recovery payment should apply to:

• Everyone on JobSeeker, Youth Allowance or other income support payments in areas affected by lockdowns, who are currently ineligible for the COVID Disaster Payment.

• People on low or modest incomes who have lost any amount of paid work due to lockdowns or border closures, whether or not they are still employed.

“Just as vaccination and effective quarantine are crucial to tackling COVID, so too is ensuring that people have enough to cover the basics. This will also provide stimulus for the economy to weather extended lockdowns,” Dr Goldie concluded.

Lockdowns see need for minimum income floor
Lockdowns see need for minimum income floor
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About the author

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Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

About the author

author image
Cameron Micallef

Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

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