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2024 Budget and JobSeeker

A calculator and a pile of money

The 2024 Federal Budget has been met with both anticipation and scrutiny, particularly regarding its response to the escalating cost of living crisis in Australia. While promoting a budget surplus, and the much-publicised revised stage 3 tax cuts and $300 energy rebate to ease rising cost-of-living pressures, the budget continues to offer inadequate support to those on JobSeeker and other payments.

At $385 per week, JobSeeker remains the lowest unemployment assistance in the OECD, measuring just 29% of the median wage, and significantly below the poverty line of $609 per week. The 2024 budget makes no increase to this base payment.

The Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) has underscored the crucial role of JobSeeker payments in alleviating financial strain for millions of Australians facing unemployment or underemployment. Current data paints a sobering picture, with over 3 million individuals living below the poverty line, struggling to keep pace with rising living expenses. The inadequacy of JobSeeker payments exacerbates this plight, as households find themselves grappling with the challenge of meeting basic needs in the face of stagnant wages and escalating costs.

Analysis of the budget performed by ACOSS reveals deeper inequalities in the budget, with those on the highest income receiving the most significant benefits, primarily through tax cuts. Conversely, the majority of people receiving JobSeeker payments will only benefit from the energy rebate, annualised at $6 per week. A minority of those who also receive Rent Assistance will benefit up to a further $9.40 per week.

ACOSS has previously called for JobSeeker to be raised to $504 per week.