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Sun. Jun 16th, 2024

Welfare recipients have been named as one of the winners of Labor’s Tuesday night Federal Budget, but it isn’t all roses on the ground. 

An extra $40 a fortnight won’t go far with the steep increase to the cost of living says local JobSeeker recipient, Nathan Hughes. 

“I don’t know what I am going to go or what I am going to eat, it’s getting insane to live,” said Nathan.

“I don’t want to be ungrateful but it’s not enough.”

The Labor Government has proposed a $40 fortnight increase, or $2.86 per day, for welfare recipients receiving JobSeeker, Austudy and Youth Allowance payments in the latest budget rerelease.

But despite the rise, the payment is still well below the poverty line, causing concern among community service providers.

“The small increases for jobseekers and the commonwealth rent assist will be swallowed up by rising rents, leaving renters on the lowest incomes hundreds of dollars below the poverty line, so it’s really not going to make a difference to those people on those payments,” said Belinda Kotris, CEO Tamworth Family Support Services.

Tamworth Family Support Services works with the most vulnerable members of our community and can see the financial pressures growing at a rapid rate.

“I think it is going to get a lot worse and we know the affordability and the availability for any rental properties for anybody on jobseeker is zero,” said Ms Kotris.

“There is not a place, not just in our region but across the state, that is actually affordable for someone on jobseeker.”

“We are in a historic housing crisis yet, and yes there is some money in there to build new social homes, but it will take years before we start to see them making a difference on the ground.”

However, it is not all doom and gloom with some measures hitting the mark to make a big difference in our community. 

“The increase to the single parenting payments eligibility, from 8 to 14, will provide some much-needed relief to many people we assist,” said Ms Kotris.

In the proposed budget, single JobSeeker recipients with no kids will still have to survive on $52.36 per day, while the eligibility for the higher rate of JobSeeker payments from 60 to 55-year-olds, means 52,000 Australians between 55 and 59 will receive an extra $92.10 per fortnight.

But is this a budget for everyone?

“We need to be very mindful that the gap between our most vulnerable people and the middle-income working class doesn’t continue to get wider, we need to make sure we are bringing everyone along with us,” said Ms Kotris.

“We are battening down as it is going to be a very tough 12 months ahead.”

The Liberal Government has placed a counterproposal on the table, wanting JobSeeker recipients to work more hours without affecting their current payment instead of the $40 a fortnight increase.

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