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SA will suffer with JobSeeker blow

The South Australian Council of Social Service says the government’s JobSeeker announcement today is a harsh blow for people who are looking for work, and who will struggle to get by. It will also be a blow to the South Australian economy generally, and to parts of regional South Australia in particular.

"The base rate of JobSeeker was previously around $40 a day, and was widely recognised as hopelessly inadequate," stated SACOSS CEO Ross Womersley. "In response to the COVID-19 pandemic it was boosted by a Supplement."

“The federal government has today announced that when the Coronavirus supplement ends at the end of March, the JobSeeker rate will increase from its old rate by just $25 a week. This equates to an increase of just $3.57 a day on the brutal old rate,” he stated.

“This is miserly and will come as a huge disappointment for anyone struggling to find their way into work across SA. So many economists, business and community leaders, and other groups, have joined our national body ACOSS and the welfare sector in a united call for an adequate, permanent increase to lift people out of poverty."

"Competition for secure, well paid, good jobs is the highest it’s been for years. To then additionally insist people who simply can’t find work will be subjected to enhanced mutual obligations is unwarranted and unnecessarily cruel."

“What we know about jobs is that the total number of jobs in our state has barely recovered to pre-pandemic levels – and that’s with the assistance of JobKeeper in maintaining them.”

"What we need from our governments at this time is to help unemployed South Australians manage to keep holding their heads up, ready to put their best foot forward when a new job opportunity arises."
"Today our federal government missed one of the most important opportunities it has had since originally announcing the Coronavirus Supplement to ensure people who simply can’t find work, or can’t find enough work, are not left living in poverty."

"As importantly, there will be real economic losses too. When you increase income support payments, most of that money goes right back into the local economy, into small businesses, into other people’s wages. Because when people don’t have much money, and you increase their income, they spend it on things they need.”

“Without JobKeeper, and without the local stimulus spending provided by the Coronavirus Supplement, we are very concerned about future job losses, as well as the impacts for people who are trying to find work and struggling to get by.”

“Many industries in South Australia are still feeling the impact of COVID-19 restrictions, and many workers in those industries are still struggling to find jobs. Job numbers in agriculture, forestry and fishing are 10% lower than pre-pandemic levels. Accommodation and food services jobs are 8% lower, information and telecommunications jobs are 6% lower."

“In fact, job numbers in 12 of the 19 ABS industry classifications have not recovered to pre-COVID levels, and not everyone can immediately move to healthcare, and to financial and insurance services, where jobs growth has been strongest.”

“Similarly, many regional areas are still suffering, with job numbers more than 5% lower than pre-pandemic levels in the lower north and Yorke Peninsula, the Eyre Peninsula and Kangaroo Island, and the Murray Mallee.”
“For people in these industries and regions, the economy has not bounced back and ongoing support is needed. To have the Coronavirus Supplement withdrawn and have their income slashed adds insult to pandemic injury.”

“Bringing JobSeeker and other income support payments to an adequate level is the right thing to do, both for people who are unemployed and for our communities and economy."

"What we have seen today is still so very far from what is required, and the harsh costs of this failure will be felt across our community. We thank all of those who have shared personal testimonies in campaigning for a decent increase in JobSeeker and reassure the tens of thousands of South Australians who are still facing the challenge of finding enough good, secure, well paid work that we will walk with you in continuing the campaign to increase this income support payment so that it will lift people out of poverty.”

23 February 2021

You can find out more about JobSeeker and the campaign to Raise The Rate here.

For comment, contact:
Ross Womersley SACOSS CEO 0418 805 426 or via Eva O'Driscoll, 8305 4227 / 0401 286 608.

Published Date: 
Tuesday, 23 February 2021