Media Release by Senator the Hon Anne Ruston

Strengthening Australia’s social security safety net

The Morrison Government is delivering on its commitment to enhance Australia’s social security safety net after Parliament today passed the historic Strengthening Income Support package.

Passage of the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Strengthening Income Support) Bill 2021 means that 1.9 million social security recipients will see a permanent $50 per fortnight increase in their rate of payment as of 1 April 2021.

Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston said the package would also permanently increase the income free area for JobSeeker and related payments to $150 per fortnight allowing recipients to keep more of what they earn while receiving income support.

“This is a big day for Australia. The recovery of our economy is now well underway, so we no longer have to rely on temporary supports, which have sustained us throughout the Coronavirus pandemic – we can look to the future, Minister Ruston said.

“The Morrison Government has now delivered the single biggest year on year increase to the rate of unemployment benefits since 1986 – an increase of 9.7 per cent increase between 1 April 2020 and 1 April 2021.

“These changes strike the right balance between support for people while they look for a job and incentives to work while ensuring the sustainability of our social security safety net.”

This package will cost $9 billion across the forward estimates, which equates to about a 10 per cent increase on the government’s typical annual spend on working age payments.

Changes taking affect from 1 April 2021

  • The maximum basic rates of working age payments will be permanently increased by $50 per fortnight.
  • The income free area for JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance (Other), Parenting Payment (Partnered) and related payments will be permanently increased to $150 per fortnight.
  • Some temporary measures that respond to the Coronavirus pandemic will be extended until 30 June 2021 including:
    • Waiving the Ordinary Waiting Period to ensure anyone impacted by the ending of the JobKeeper program can seamlessly transition to JobSeeker.
    • Allowing people who are required to self-isolate or care for someone self-isolating to access payments.
    • Extending portability arrangements to ensure anyone unable to return home because of the Coronavirus pandemic can continue to receive payments.