The government’s lifeline to small businesses and the unemployed – the JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments – will be extended past their original September cut-off date to continue to provide support to Australians during the coronavirus crisis.
The prime minister Scott Morrison announced the wage subsidy program and unemployment benefit schemes would extend for a further six months albeit at reduced rates.
JobKeeper is now slated to continue until March 2021 to support businesses through the pandemic. However, the subsidy will now become a two-tiered payment scheme.
Payment rates for those working less than 20 hours per week will be capped at $750 per fortnight while full-time workers will see the wage subsidy drop from $1500 a fortnight to $1200 a fortnight.
The payment will then scale down again from January 1 to $1000 a fortnight for full-time employees and $650 a fortnight for those working parttime.
“JobKeeper is doing its job and will continue to do its job through the decisions announced today,” said the PM.
To date, the program has delivered over $30 billion in support to over 960,000 businesses. The PM said the scheme has been well-targeted and effective in saving businesses and livelihoods. He said the changes to the wage subsidy have been made in an effort to remain responsive to the needs of businesses and reflective of the current coronavirus economic crisis. To continue to receive the supplement, businesses will need to prove again that they have seen a downturn in revenue.
Morrison said the government has been focused on delivering practical solutions to practical problems.
“We don’t set and forget when it comes to these arrangements we will continue to look at them further and calibrate so they are effective.”
The PM also announced changes to the government’s JobSeeker coronavirus supplement. The payment was slated to wind up in September but will now continue for another three months. However, the supplement will fall from $550 to $250 a fortnight until the end of the year.
Morrison said the income free area (the amount JobSeeler’s can earn before payment is affected) will also be increased to $300 per fortnight. Recipients of the scheme will also need to enter into mutual obligation contracts again from August 4, 2020.
“We will be reintroducing mutual obligation in two phases – from 4 August we will be requiring people to connect again to employment services and to undertake four job searches a month and – the penalties regime will kick in if people refuse a job that has been provided and offered through that process.”
With the coronavirus crisis showing no signs of abating, the PM hasn’t ruled out providing further assistance to those affected by the pandemic. However, he said it is too early to say what assistance will remain on the table post-March 2021.
“We’ve made decisions to continue to provide support, based on the evidence, based on the expert advice, based on what we believe the economy needs. When we make the next set of decisions, we’ll be doing exactly the same thing.
“We’ll be assessing it and doing what’s best for the country which is what we’ve sought to do today.”
More than five million Australians currently receive payments from the JobKeeper/ JobSeeker schemes.
Want more? Get the latest coronavirus news and updates straight to your inbox! Follow Kochie’s Business Builders on Facebook, Twitter
Now read this