May 9 budget: call for substantial increase to Jobseeker

The Albanese government is under new pressure to increase the rate of the Jobseeker and other allowances, described as “seriously inadequate” by a government-appointed committee.Treasurer Jim Chalmers on Tuesday released the first report of the interim Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee, which is helping inform the government’s considerations ahead of the May 9 budget.The committee has made 37 recommendations, which Dr Chalmers said the government would consider but not commit to.“All indicators available to the committee show that current rates of social security payments for JobSeeker opayment and related non-pension paymentsfor working age Australians are seriously inadequate,” the committee report said.“People receiving these payments face the highest levels of financial stress in the Australian community.”

The committee said the current rate of Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA) was also too low.“In addition to substantially increasing base rates of JobSeeker payment and related payments, there should be increases in the rate of CRA to reflect thelong-term reduction in its inadequacy,” the report said.“While there may be concerns about the effect of increased payments on incentives for work, it is our view that current unemployment payments havefallen to such an inadequate level that they create a barrier to paid work.”The committee has recommended the government commit to “a substantial increase in the base rates” of JobSeeker Payment and related working age payments as a first priority.

Dr Chalmers said the government “will always look to provide support where we can to those most in need, where it is responsible and affordable to do so.”“While we can’t fund every good idea, there will be measures in the May budget to address disadvantage,” he said in a statement.“This will include energy bill price relief that prioritises those on payments and pensions.”The May Budget will build on the work the Government has already done in its first 11 months such as making it easier for pensioners to work more hours without losing their pension; improving employment services to better support people with disability to find employment; and by investing in Paid Parental Leave to give more families access to the payment and provide parents greater flexibility in how they take leave.The Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee was established in December last year to provide advice in the lead-up to budgets on policies to address disadvantage and boost economic participation.The Treasurer said some of the committee’s 37 recommendations will be considered as part of other government processes that are currently underway, such as the development of the Employment White Paper, the Measuring What Matters Statement and the Early Years Strategy.

Originally published as A government-appointed committee wants substantial increase in JobSeeker payments

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