Today, Australians receiving Centrelink benefits will see a slight increase in their payments as the March indexation takes effect across several payments.
The increase in payments will have a significant effect on aged care and disability services, as many people who rely on Centrelink payments are elderly or have disabilities. The increases may provide some relief for these vulnerable citizens, but more needs to be done to address the inadequacy of income support for those who need it most.
The following payments will see indexation increases from today: Age Pension, ABSTUDY, Disability Support Pension, Carer payment, JobSeeker, and Parenting payment (single parent). All of these payments are increasing by approximately 3.7%, in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) which has risen steadily over the past year.
While the increases are a welcome relief for those receiving Centrelink benefits, the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) says they do not address the inadequacy of income support, particularly for people on JobSeeker.
The Australian Government employs a strategy of biannual indexing of certain Centrelink payments to ensure they remain aligned with inflation, thereby preserving their actual worth. However, these increases do not provide an increase in the purchasing power of households relying on the payments.
The JobSeeker rate is increasing by $1.77 a day for people under 60, taking the payment from approximately $47.75 to $49.50 a day. This is 57% below minimum wage and 34% below the Age Pension.
ACOSS Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Edwina MacDonald, wants the Government to raise JobSeeker payments to the same level as the Age Pension amid rising inflation.
She believes people on JobSeeker and related payments cannot afford to eat enough, get essential medication or healthcare, and often go into debt to pay their energy bills. Ms MacDonald told ABC News, “The only way to address this problem is to deliver a real increase to JobSeeker and related payments so that they are lifted to at least the same level as the pension.”