Aged pensioners will pocket an extra $500 to help with costs during the COVID-19 pandemic, but a long-term rate for the dole remains elusive.
The pension boost will be split into two $250 payments, with the first in December and the second from March next year.
The measure was announced in Tuesday’s federal budget, which included more than $227 billion for social security and welfare.
The extra payments come after the aged pension was put on hold for the first time in more than two decades because inflation has gone backwards due to the pandemic.
The two payments will also be handed to those on a disability support pension, carer payment, family tax benefit, carer allowance and certain veterans’ affairs payments.
People on the pensioner concession card, Commonwealth seniors health card and veterans’ concession cards will also pocket the money.
Welfare recipients have already received two $750 payments this year to help during the pandemic.
Australian Council of Social Service chief executive Cassandra Goldie says the budget has given young people a glimmer of hope, but fails to give older unemployed Australians certainty for their future.
The budget includes a JobMaker ‘hiring credit’ which pays businesses for employing young Australians.
The payment is $200 a week for employees aged 16 to 29, and $100 a week for people aged 30 to 35.
Dr Goldie said the scheme should be urgently extended to people of all ages who have been unemployed for at least a year.
“People without paid work will see no benefit from the income tax cuts brought forward in today’s budget, which mainly go to people who are lucky enough to have jobs,” she said.
“The government will need to do more to ensure that we are all in the recovery together.”
The boosted JobSeeker payment is due to end in December, when it’s set to return to $40 a day.
Tuesday’s federal budget also flags extra funding to make the cashless debit card ongoing, cementing its permanence after initially being implemented as a trial.
But the government has not said how much money it would cost, as it’s negotiating with the companies who provide the cards.
The decision makes the cashless debit card ongoing for welfare recipients in SA’s Ceduna region, WA’s East Kimberley and Goldfields, as well as Bundaberg and Hervey Bay in Queensland.
Young Australians will also benefit from a temporary change to eligibility criteria for Youth Allowance and Abstudy.
From the start of 2021 all applicants will be deemed to have worked over the six months from March 25 to September 24.
This will go towards meeting the workforce participation criteria for the payments, which is 30 hours of work a week for at least 18 months within a two-year block.
The budget confirms $7.6 million in bereavement payments for parents of stillborn children.