A much-needed boost is on the way for Jobseeker and those receiving rent assistance but Australians on other Centrelink payments will have to wait and see whether a similar sized increase will hit their accounts.
Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth confirmed the increase, which occurs every six months, will increase Jobseeker by $16 a fortnight from September, taking the base rate to $749.20 a fortnight.
The increase is expected to come into effect in line with the government’s proposed $40 increase to the Jobseeker payment that was announced in the May budget.
“I’m able to confirm that rate will be $56,” she told ABC’s Insiders on Sunday morning.
The government indexes some Centrelink payments to bring them in line with inflation twice a year – once in March and once in September.
Ms Rishworth confirmed the September indexation had been calculated at 2.2 per cent, in line with the inflation figures over the past six months.
But she would not guarantee other payments, such as the aged pension and parenting payment (single parent), would be lifted at the same rate.
“Some of the other measures like pension and single parent payment have a choice of indexation measures. So we‘ve got to work through those indexation measures,” she said.
“But CPI of course, is particularly high at the moment and so it is likely that CPI will be the highest of the number of measures that are looked at.”
Australians receiving Commonwealth Rent Assistance will also receive an additional $16 on top of the 15 per cent increase announced in May.
“The support that people will get through that, if they’re on the maximum rate, will be between $18 to $37 extra a fortnight,” Ms Rishworth said.
Despite being under pressure to do more after revealing an expected $20bn budget surplus, the government has again hosed down expectations of any further cost-of-living relief.
In the year to June, the price of everyday essentials has increased steadily despite inflation moderating.
Food and non-alcoholic foods have risen 7.5 per cent, rent has increased 6.7 per cent, while gas and electricity prices have risen 22 per cent and 10.2 per cent respectfully.
Asked on Sunday, Ms Rishworth said it was important to view the government’s measure “in their entirety“.
“We‘ve got our energy price reductions which will focus on concession card holders,” she said.
“And of course, our tripling of the bulk-billing incentive, which is focused once again for those on the lowest incomes, those that have children.”
“When you talk about the surplus from last year, that’s a very different circumstance to the reforms that we‘ve made which are ongoing and structural.
“We have calibrated these to be responsible to help people that are doing it tough. But also, that they’re sustainable into the long-term.”
The Senate this week will debate the increases proposed in the May budget.
The government has warned the legislation must pass in order to ensure payments can be in place by the September 20 deadline.