2 in 5 Australians confused about the latest JobSeeker changes

Posted: 31 March 2021 10:20 am
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A concerning number of Australians are misinformed about the JobSeeker changes taking effect after March 31st, according to new research by Finder.

A new nationally representative Finder survey of 1,015 adults revealed that just 63% of Australians are aware that the fortnightly $150 coronavirus supplement, currently available to those receiving JobSeeker, will be axed tomorrow alongside the JobKeeper wage subsidy targeted at businesses.

In place of these cuts, the base rate benefit will increase by $50 from $565.70 to $620.80 per fortnight. This means JobSeeker recipients will be about $100 worse off per fortnight, with an estimated 1.95 million Australians receiving the payment throughout the pandemic.

Alarmingly, Finder's research shows that around 29% of Australians believe the JobSeeker payment is increasing, while 9% think the benefit is remaining at the same level.

Graham Cooke, Head of Consumer Research at Finder, said the end of the COVID-19 supplement could have a negative impact on the economy.

"Welfare cuts may impact some people's ability to pay their bills, mortgage payments or debt.

"These changes may also affect the property market– buying a home may become even more of a hurdle to prospective buyers, while mortgage holders will have further to reach to pay their bills," Cooke said.

According to the survey Baby Boomers are the most informed, with nearly three in four (73%) saying the JobSeeker payment will be less after March 31st, compared with just 57% of Millennials.

Yet despite the cut to unemployment benefits, Australia's economy continues to show signs of improvement.

The national unemployment rate fell to 5.8% in March, however this is still significantly above pre-pandemic levels, with 156,000 more unemployed people in January 2021 compared to January 2020.

Cooke said the youth unemployment rate is particularly concerning .

"The proportion of young people without work was still 13.9% as of January. This is much higher than it was pre-pandemic.

"Young Australians were the hardest hit by job cuts during the recession, and as a result of lower savings and less job experience they may take longer to find their feet again.

"Those who are struggling from the impact of welfare cuts should get in touch with their bank, lender or utility provider immediately and request financial hardship assistance.

"You may be eligible for measures like temporary interest only payments or payment plans which can help to alleviate some of the financial strain," Cooke said.

On March 31, will the JobSeeker benefit be more or less than it is now?
Less, the COVID-19 supplement is ending63%
More, the government announced it was increasing29%
The benefit will be the same9%

Source: Finder survey of 1,015 respondents, March 2021

Methodology:

  • Finder's Consumer Sentiment Tracker is owned by Finder and run by Qualtrics, a SAP company.
  • The survey contains data from 1,015 Australians in March 2021

Where to seek financial help if you're impacted by the payment cuts:

  • Contact your bank. If you're falling behind on your mortgage or credit card payments, immediately contact your bank or lender to prevent your debt from spiralling any further. Banks have entire teams of people trained to assist customers experiencing financial hardship. The sooner you act, the better.
  • Get in touch with your landlord. If you're falling behind on rent, contact your landlord to let them know your current situation. They may be willing to negotiate a lower weekly price, or allow for some flexibility around breaking your lease.
  • Contact your utility provider. Let your energy or broadband providers know if you're struggling to afford your bills. You may be offered financial assistance measures like a payment plan.

For more information on where to seek financial help during the pandemic, visit Finder's COVID-19 hub.

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