COVID JobSeeker unemployment payment will be extended into next year 'if needed'

 The federal government has committed to extending the increased JobSeeker payment into next year if required.

The coronavirus wage supplement was boosted at the height of the pandemic to provide steady cash flow to those who could not find work due to COVID-19.

However, that increase of $550 to the welfare payment is due to expire in December.

Changes to JobSeeker payments have been ruled out so long as the supplement is needed. File image.
Changes to JobSeeker payments have been ruled out so long as the supplement is needed. File image. Credit: Getty Images

Social Services Minister Anne Ruston revealed on Monday that the unemployment benefit would remain so long as it was needed.

“I want to assure all Australians if elevated supports are continued to be needed, they will be made available,” she said.

More than 1.6 million Australians are currently on the payment scheme.

Income ‘double-dipping’

Ruston has also encouraged those affected by JobKeeper cuts to consider ‘double-dipping’ with JobSeeker supplements.

JobKeeper wage subsidies are being extended for six months at reduced rates from September 28.

Payments for full-time staff are being slashed from $1500 to $1200 per fortnight, while people who usually worked less than 20 hours a week before the coronavirus pandemic will receive $750 every two weeks.

JobKeeper recipients on $1200 per fortnight may be eligible for a partial dole payment, lifting their total income to $1476.

People receiving JobKeeper at the part-time rate of $750 per fortnight could receive another $546 in unemployment benefits, boosting their incomes to $1295.

“We have temporarily put arrangements in place so that our social security safety net is not just for people who have lost their jobs,” Ruston said.

“It is able to provide a cushion for people who have had or fear their hours or income will be reduced.”