One million Victorians forced to rely on JobKeeper are being urged to also apply for the dole to “top up” their payments by up to $500 a fortnight as the Morrison Government moves to cut the wage subsidy.
The double dipping strategy to claim both payments is being actively encouraged by the Morrison Government to help workers who stand to lose hundreds of dollars when the coronavirus wage subsidy is slashed on September 27.
Part-time workers will be hardest hit with the $1500 a fortnight JobKeeper payment slashed to just $750 a fortnight.
That means part-time workers will earn less on the new $750 JobKeeper than the new rate of JobSeeker which will be worth $815-a-fortnight.
But now workers are being encouraged to claim both JobKeeper and a part-rate of Jobseeker under the revamped rules.
Social Services Minister Anne Ruston told news.com.au that someone receiving JobKeeper at a rate of $1200 a fortnight may now be eligible for a part payment of JobSeeker of about $276 a fortnight, bringing their total taxpayer funded income to $1476.
That’s only $25 a fortnight less than the original $1500 rate of JobKeeper.
A worker on the part time rate of $750 a fortnight may be eligible for a part payment of JobSeeker up to $546 bringing their total taxpayer funded income to $1295.
“I would encourage any Victorian, or Australian for that matter, who is concerned about changes to their employment or has had their income reduced to test their eligibility for JobSeeker or related payments,’’ Senator Ruston said.
“Our social security safety net is not just for people who have lost their jobs, it is able to provide a cushion for people who have had or fear their hours or income will be reduced.
“Anyone earning an income simply needs to report the amount earned to Services Australia each fortnight, which can be done online, over the phone or on the app.”
Senator Ruston moved to remind Victorians of their options to claim both allowances after 26 year-old Victorian Sarah Marshall, told news.com.au that the JobKeeper cuts would leave her with a food budget of $40 a week.
“The JobKeeper payment was a lifesaver for me, but it’s a dramatic drop from what my full-time salary was,’’ she said.
“The drop again means I won’t be able to afford my food for the week after paying my rent and my car loan, and I’ve got barely any savings after moving away from home at 19 and living in Sydney, now Melbourne.
“The cut of JobKeeper only adds more stress to an already difficult situation.”
Unemployed workers who are receiving only JobSeeker can also earn up to $300 a fortnight before their payment is affected which would bring their total income to $1115 under new COVID-19 changes.
Under the new rules, unemployed workers also no longer need an employment separation certificate to be able to get access to payment.
The Morrison Government said this is designed to be helpful for people who have had their hours reduced due to COVID-19.
For example, a full-time worker who was being paid $1800 but has their hours reduced by 40 per cent to $1080 may be eligible for $356.50 in Jobseeker including the $250 per fortnight supplement.
This would bring their total income to $1436.50 which is above the ‘new’ $1200 full-time JobKeeper payment after September 27.
Claiming JobSeeker could also have huge benefits for single mums and dads because anyone on the payment who has children is automatically eligible for the full rate of Family Tax Benefit, and may be eligible for rent assistance of up to $139 a fortnight for singles.
To qualify for the JobSeeker payment, workers need to meet the income test and have earnings under $1257 a fortnight and meet residency requirements, an assets test and mutual obligations.
“There is support through JobKeeper for people will be able to go back to work and for people who need to look for new employment JobSeeker is there as a safety net which also connects with job service providers who can assist people to find suitable vacancies or re-skill and retrain depending on their circumstances,’’ Senator Ruston said.
The Prime Minister has adopted a “wait and see” approach to providing more assistance to Victorian workers until the state government details its own rescue plan for millions of workers hit by the extended lockdown.
The Victorian Premier confirmed on Tuesday he was in the talks with the Morrison Government over the plans to reduce the JobKeeper wage subsidy.