Welfare recipients struggle as lockdowns drag on

The Government’s COVID-specific income support payments in 2021 have focused on supplementing the income of people who have lost work (Bigstock)

Welfare recipients under stay-at-home orders and barred from additional COVID support – more than 80 per cent of those on working-age Centrelink payments – are struggling with the extra costs of living under lockdown. Source: The Guardian.

As part of a push to offer extra income support to the more than 800,000 people left out, the Australian Council of Social Service surveyed welfare recipients living under stay-at-home orders in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra.

Of the 216 people surveyed, almost all respondents (96 per cent) said they were struggling with the cost of living and 41.5 per cent said they were at risk of homelessness because of the high cost of housing.

Only those who can show they have lost at least eight hours of work can access the Government's $200-a-week top-up “disaster payment”.

Government data shows 152,000 people receiving income support payments had gained access to the disaster payment, meaning about 800,000 people or 84 per cent had been left out of extra assistance, ACOSS said.

The Government’s COVID-specific income support payments this year have been directly focused on supplementing the income of people who have lost work.

But some welfare recipients excluded from support told the survey they were dealing with higher costs due to staying home, such as increased electricity bills, and taking taxis to avoid public transport and grocery deliveries.

ACOSS chief Cassandra Goldie said the Government should allow all welfare recipients to access disaster payments, including people on temporary visas, before increasing payments to above the poverty line.

A spokeswoman for Social Services Minister Anne Ruston said this month that the Government had “provided $32 billion in emergency support payments” and made the biggest boost to unemployment since 1986.


Welfare recipients struggle with cost of living as lockdowns drag on (By Luke Henriques-Gomes, The Guardian

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