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Reducing JobSeeker mid-pandemic will plunge Victorians into deep poverty

Out-of-work Victorians warn they’ll need to forego essential food and medicine if the Federal Government pushes ahead with planned cuts to JobSeeker.

The alarming prediction is contained in a new survey of people receiving JobSeeker being released today by VCOSS and the Australian Council of Social Service.

The Federal Government bolstered JobSeeker when COVID-19 struck and the economy started to slow. But IT now plans to reduce support despite the pandemic still raging in Victoria and Melbourne remaining in hard lockdown.

“This is the wrong time to be ripping the rug from underneath out-of-work Victorians,” VCOSS CEO Emma King said.

“It’s cruel and it’s counterproductive.”

The Federal Government plans to axe the Coronavirus Supplement on September 25, shaving $300 off the fortnightly income of 2.2 million Australians already living in financial distress.

It’s also warning that in the leadup to Christmas it might reduce support down to the pre-pandemic level of $40 per day, plunging millions back into extreme poverty.

Victorian respondents to the national survey of more than 630 JobSeeker recipients said if the $300 cut goes ahead this month:

• 41% would have less than $14 a day after paying their rent.
• 44% would “definitely” have to skip meals, and buy less fresh food
• 47% said the $300 cut would have a “substantial” impact on their ability to cover health costs, that they would likely have to skip medications, and not be able to see specialists
• 51% would struggle to pay utility bills (power, gas, water, etc).

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said: “It is heartbreaking to read the responses to this survey as people spell out the grim reality they face if the first cut goes ahead in just two weeks.”

“The best way to support those hardest hit by the recession and support economic recovery and jobs is to provide the certainty of a permanent, adequate rate of JobSeeker and other social security payments without delay.


Media contacts:

VCOSS – Ryan Sheales (for Emma King), 0418 127 153
ACOSS – Carolin Wenzel (for Cassandra Goldie), 0419 626 155.

#ENDS#

VCOSS CEO Emma King is available for interview.

Media contact: Ryan Sheales, 0418 127 153, media@vcoss.org.au.

Hi-resolution images of Ms King are available here.