Home Australia JobKeeper and JobSeeker changes loom ahead of Federal Government coronavirus budget update

JobKeeper and JobSeeker changes loom ahead of Federal Government coronavirus budget update

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Part-time and full-time workers are expected to receive different amounts of cash under the revised JobKeeper program set to be announced alongside changes to JobSeeker on Thursday.

Both the wage subsidy and the boosted unemployment benefit are set to end in September, but the Federal Government has acknowledged support would still be needed past then as the coronavirus crisis continues.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has flagged industry-specific packages to help businesses and areas hit hardest by COVID-19 restrictions like tourism, travel and hospitality.

It is understood there may be a sliding scale of payments depending on whether workers were part- or full-time before the pandemic.

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While Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg would not comment on what rate the JobKeeper figure could move to, he said strict turnover tests proving revenue decline would apply to businesses claiming the wage support in the future.

“We are transitioning from the income support over time,” he said.

“We do recognise that this is a very challenging time for the Australian economy.

“The effective unemployment rate remains very high, just over 11 per cent.”

Deloitte Access Economics estimates nearly 10 per cent of all Australian businesses — around 240,000 — are at high risk of failure from the end of September when the schemes finish.

It said the end of JobKeeper coupled with the end of loan and rent repayment deferrals put many businesses in a precarious position.

“Canberra may well announce specific packages to support businesses beyond September but in the meantime, it’s incumbent on suppliers, creditors and insurers to prepare contingency plans for a significant rise in hardship and bad debts,” it said on Monday.

The full details of the changes to both JobKeeper and JobSeeker will be announced by the Treasurer when he delivers a mini-budget update on Thursday.

It is expected the JobSeeker rate will not fall back to its pre-pandemic amount of $560 a fortnight.

According to modelling done by The Australia Institute, if the benefit did revert back to its old rate, approximately 650,000 people would be pushed into poverty, including 120,000 children.

It said even if the base rate for JobSeeker was increased by $75 a week, half a million people would be pushed into poverty, including 90,000 children.

As well as potential changes to who is eligible for JobKeeper, flexibility arrangements that allow employers to vary workers’ shift lengths and times will also end.

Federal Labor’s Industrial Relations spokesperson, Tony Burke, said the party’s support of the arrangements was strictly for those on JobKeeper and it would need to consider supporting the same arrangements on any new support packages.

“Now we don’t know how they’re going to extend JobKeeper or what it’ll be, but certainly there is a reasonable argument for people who are still on JobKeeper that you would have that sort of extension,” he said.

“So a proposal like that we expect will come forward, if they’re extending JobKeeper, and we would look at that favourably.”

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