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Tiered, targeted income support could be on the way in JobKeeper 2.0

man doing finances
man doing finances

While Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is staying tight-lipped on the details of the changes to JobKeeper and JobSeeker, potentially leaked details are pointing to a tiered, needs-based system that will exclude businesses that have seen some improvement since lockdown measures hit.

The full details will be announced on Thursday, July 23, though a report on news.com.au said on Monday the scheme will be extended to the end of the year, but will only be paying out around $1000 a fortnight.

Additionally, businesses will need to meet new eligibility criteria to qualify for the payments to ensure money is going to the hardest hit industries, and may be required to submit monthly updates on turnover to the ATO to reconfirm eligibility.

“As we have highlighted there will be another phase of income support. It will stick to the principles that have guided us well. It will be targeted, it will be proportionate, it will be scalable, and it will be using existing systems,” Frydenberg told news.com.au.

“The JobKeeper payment is an economic lifeline to millions of Australians and hundreds of thousands of businesses. Barring the spread of the virus in significant numbers beyond Victoria, we expect to see the other state and territory economies continue their recovery towards a COVIDSafe economy.”

Victoria is not alone in rising cases

Victoria has been seeing daily Covid-19 infections soar, with more than 500 declared over the weekend, however each case in New South Wales is now spreading to multiple people – raising the risk of an “exponential breakout” according to modelling from Doherty University. 

In the retail industry this has been exacerbated by insufficient support for workers, argued SDA national secretary Gerard Dwyer, with the absence of paid pandemic leave for nearly half of the national workforce an “invitation to disaster”.

Dwyer’s statements come in light of Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announcement on Sunday that “about 80 per cent of [Victoria’s] new cases since May are being driven by transmission in workplaces”, and cases in Woolworths and Ikea employees continuing to work despite showing symptoms.

“If the case for nationwide paid pandemic leave had not been made already it has now,” Dwyer said. 

“With unemployment at its worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s, hours worked being cut and floor traffic in many retail outlets falling resulting in reduced cash flow, the Morrison government must immediately provide paid pandemic leave for all businesses that can’t or won’t.

“The health of the nation and the future of the economy depend on it.”

JobSeeker revamps remains unclear

Modelling from The Australia Institute released on Monday, however, paints a stark picture of what unemployment could look like in the coming months.

Depending on what the Federal Government does with the JobSeeker payment in Thursday’s stimulus shuffle up to 650,000 people could be pushed below the poverty line – raising unemployment figures from 3.58 million to 4.24 million almost instantly.

And, even if the coronavirus supplement is replaced with an increase in the base rate of $75 a week, 500,000 people will fall below the poverty line – likely putting the slowing rate of domestic spending at risk regardless. 

“Removing the supplement in the middle of a recession is likely to see many more people forced below the poverty line than was the case before the coronavirus supplement was introduced,” the report read.

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