Unemployed Australians will receive an extra $25 a week after changes to the JobSeeker base rate passed Parliament on Thursday afternoon.
The deadline to tweak the benefit has been rapidly approaching, with the coronavirus supplement payment ending at the end of March.
After being passed in the Senate without amendments, the changes are now officially law. Here’s what that means.
How much is the JobSeeker payment?
That depends on which payment you’re on.
The $50 a fortnight increase applies to anyone on JobSeeker, Parenting Payment, Youth Allowance and Austudy, which is just under 2 million people.
For anyone without children, the maximum payment right now is about $566 a fortnight — that’ll increase to $620, excluding other payments like rent assistance.
The increase is expected to cost $9 billion over four years.
When is JobSeeker changing?
The changes to JobSeeker come into effect on April 1.
The coronavirus supplement payment will end on March 31, which means those on JobSeeker will no longer get that $150 boost a fortnight.
The coronavirus supplement was introduced at the height of the pandemic as part of the government’s economic support packages.
Part of the reason the government was pushing to get the legislation through ASAP was because it was afraid if it didn’t, the rate might revert back to pre-pandemic levels.
How much can I earn on JobSeeker?
One of the JobSeeker changes is how much you can work before your payment starts to reduce.
Previously, you could only earn just over $100 a fortnight before it started effecting your payment — from April 1 that’ll go up slightly to $150.
What are the new JobSeeker rules?
With the base rate increase comes an increase in “mutual obligations”.
Face-to-face appointments with job services providers, which were paused during the pandemic, will once again be required.
Plus from April, people on the payments will have to look for at least 15 jobs a month, up from 8. In July, that’ll rise again to 20.
Lastly, if you’ve been on a payment for six months you’ll now also have to enter an “intensive training stage” to enhance skills or get work experience in a certain field.
The government is also temporarily expanding, until the end of June, the eligibility criteria for JobSeeker and Youth Allowance to include anyone who has to self-isolate or care for others because of COVID-19.
When does JobKeeper end?
The wage subsidy program is set to wrap up at the end of the month as well, and the Prime Minister has made it clear that’s absolutely happening.
“JobKeeper must come to an end,” he said.
“It has done its job.
“At each stage of our gear change on JobKeeper we have seen the economy continue to move forward.”
Last week, the government announced it’d subsidise a raft of flights across the country in a bid to help the still struggling tourism industry once the subsidy ends.