JobSeeker declared the new ‘pre-Age Pension’ payment

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It’s federal Budget week and if you haven’t already heard or read by now the myriad announcements that red is the new black, well then, you have now.

But another government announcement last week revealed that JobSeeker payments are the new ‘pre-Age Pension’ payment.

That’s what the latest Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) report states, along with revelations that the typical ‘welfare’ recipient is now aged 55 – or older.

In 2019, prior to the pandemic hitting, half of JobSeeker – then Newstart – recipients were aged 45 or younger, and mostly male.

Now, in the thick of the COVID-19 crisis, the typical welfare recipient is an older person rather than a younger male.

And an increasing number of those older Australians relying on JobSeeker payments are women over 60.

Older female recipients are on the payment for longer, too, says the report, which may be partly due to women being moved from partner payments to JobSeeker payments, but also due to the increase in the Age Pension age.

However, it seems an increasing number of older Australian men and women are now reliant on the payment.

“Overall, JobSeeker appears to be functioning as a kind of pre-Age Pension payment for some older Australians,” states the report.

“The share of recipients aged 60 and older also increased for both genders, with a larger rise among females.

“From the end of the 1990s to around 2007, JobSeeker recipient numbers tracked unemployment relatively closely for both genders. However, a noticeable and often growing divergence between JobSeeker recipients and unemployment can be seen for women from around 2011. This divergence is driven particularly by older female recipients.”

Between 2007 and 2019, the proportion of JobSeeker recipients who needed the payment for one year or more rose from 48 to 71 per cent for women and from 51 to 63 per cent for men.

Back in 2001, typical JobSeeker recipients were men aged between 25 and 29, then men aged between 21 and 24.

In 2019, they were overtaken by older people, particularly women, who made up the largest proportion of recipients.

And, by June 2019, one-third of women and just under a third of men aged 55 and over had been receiving the payment for five or more years.

The low rate of the payments exacerbates concerns of older JobSeeker recipients, mostly women.

“We are looking at a crisis of older women retiring into poverty,” said Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert.

“Before this crisis hit, almost half of people on Newstart had an illness or disability.

“These are people that should be properly supported or on DSP [Disability Support Pension], not threatened with having a payment taken away because they are too sick to look for jobs.”

Even before the pandemic, women’s financial security was an issue in need of immediate attention and support.

On average, women retire with half the super of men, and women over the age of 55 are the fastest growing portion of the homeless population.

COVID-19 has put even more pressure on women’s financial positions, says Women’s Agenda reporter Kristine Ziwica.

“As the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on women’s financial position – their ability to earn and their ability to save – bite, we are at a critical crossroads. A difficult issue that politicians and policy makers have been kicking down the road for far too long requires urgent action… before it’s too late,” she wrote, adding that the pandemic could thrust a generation of women into poverty in their old age.

Industries most affected by shutdowns, as well as other part-time and casual roles, are heavily comprised of female workers.

These women are likely to be working fewer hours, if at all, and are also most likely to be taking on more unpaid domestic work and care duties.

Subsequently, many have been forced to access entire super balances just to get through the pandemic.

“It’s certainly a period of considerable risk as all these issues are conspiring to create an environment where – down the track “women’s poverty will increase,” says Equality Rights Alliance project coordinator Romy Listo.

“There’s a level of urgency. We know younger women have been clearing out their superannuation, there’s a risk of women becoming permanently locked out of the workforce, particularly if childcare is unavailable or unaffordable; these issues are going to have major implications in the long term.”

Australian Council of Social Service chief Cassandra Goldie says the PBO report is “deeply concerning”.

“It’s vital that the government invests in wage subsidies and training for people who are at risk of long-term unemployment,” said Dr Goldie.

“We also need to see increased investment in care services such as aged care and childcare, which generate more jobs – especially for women – than the same amount invested in infrastructure.

“We must ensure that those people who could not get paid work even before this crisis hit, including older women, are not left behind in entrenched unemployment.”

The federal government has already signalled it will not retain the higher payment rate permanently, but advocates say this new research suggests it should strongly reconsider this position.

Do you think the government should create a ‘pre-Age Pension’ payment? Do you think it should do what it can to retain the higher rate of JobSeeker payments? What provisos would you place on this happening?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?



Total Comments: 48
  1. 0

    Yesterday was big statement about the budget targeting $2.5 million towards pensioners. Had to read it twice – yes, said $2.5 million. Well, with over 1,950,000 aged pensioners (DSS March 2019 figures) – that’s barely just over a dollar per pensioner. Talked-off tax cuts are useless for those no longer working.

    • 0

      sunnyOz, like you had to read the statement twice – thought it read $25 million at first then realised there was a dot between the two numbers – luckily I had enough time to cancel the coffee I had been going to buy with the increase 🙁

      Bet when it’s time for the pollies next pay rise none of them will refuse the $100+ a day that they will get even though none of the monkeys could run a zoo let a lone a country.

  2. 0

    “Do you think the government should create a ‘pre-Age Pension’ payment? Do you think it should do what it can to retain the higher rate of JobSeeker payments? What provisos would you place on this happening?”

    There is a precedence for this. The Howard government at one time moved people of a certain senior age from the dole to DSP and claimed success at reducing the unemployment figures. When these people reached retirement age they were transferred to the age pension. I can’t agree with maintaining the current Jobseeker rate of payment although I can accept that the payment shouldn’t revert to pre-COVID amounts.

    • 0

      And the politicians just did it again, forcing a bunch of older Australians who’ve lost their jobs and gone onto JobSeeker onto the Aged Pension. It cuts the government cost for each individual by over half.

  3. 0

    First of all, those of us over 60 ‘should’ be on a comparable payment to the DSP, Carer and Age Pension, not the paltry $550 (minimum) per fortnight for JobSeeker.

    When people talk of the insufficient payment of the DSP, Carer or the Age Pension, they need to rethink how we survive on any of these payments without any superannuation, or other financial supports.

    I live within my means and don’t spend my money on non-essential things such as alcohol, tobacco, gambling, eating out. All my bills are paid every fortnight, including insurances. I have a ‘teenage’ car which gets me from A to B (and is comprehensively insured), and my contents are sufficient for me to have a comfortable home. I rent. I had to move from a capital city to a region where the rents were more affordable, and there’s nothing wrong with moving to be able to afford accommodation. Some people don’t want to move and be so far from family & friends. I have a brother 8 hours away, and a sister, cousin & aunt around 7 hours away. This is the only way I can afford to live.

    • 0

      You have made a practical decision SuziJ and I applaud you for it. Those of us over 60 tend to be set in our ways and rely on a network around us so your choice must have been very difficult. I wish you happiness in your new home.

    • 0

      SuzyJ, my wife and I live in a rural area. Rents are indeed lower, BUT there is no public transport, medical services are average to poor, the local hospital only treats fairly routine matters and its 200km to the nearest specialist centre. On the positive side our local pollie is fat and happy in a safe NP seat, doing nothing but talking big about his government’s achievements!

    • 0

      Buggsie, you got it in one.
      Regional areas sound nice until you get there, with no services. We have no water, no sewerage, no public transport, limited waste collection (for an extra fee), crappy phone and internet, TV reception marginal, medical facilities that see a high doctor turnover, no specialists, a wait for 2 weeks to see a doctor, and so on.

      Sure, we make the choice, (no ratbag neighbours, no noise or light pollution, peace and quiet etc), but there is a price to pay. City folk don’t last long out here.

    • 0

      Buggsie – sounds like you live in a similar area where I used to live. I did live in an outback Qld town, a very safe and continual LNP seat, with a very snug pollie, with sole interest in self preservation.
      So many people say ‘move to a rural area’, but I found the cons far out weighed the pros. Rents might be a little cheaper – BUT no choice of groceries (LOVE Aldi), very limited medical services, only one expensive power provider, found rents only marginally cheaper unless you want a non-air conditioned old dump, employers very biased against incoming workers (being told to my face that preference is for locals), no public transport, even insurances were dearer. (car, home, contents).
      Even though I was and still am a country lover, I moved back to the city – definitely cheaper.

    • 0

      I moved from the city to a small country town – just big enough to have an Aldi. Love it! Everything is cheaper. Lots of fruit and vegetables are grown locally and sold direct with no middle-man mark-up. Fertile soil and plenty of water means we can grow our own. Hospital, specialists and all city facilities are only 25 minutes away and there is an excellent train service to the city. We don’t need to rent, but rents are much lower, as are council rates. This is the friendliest and most welcoming place I’ve ever been (and I’ve lived in a lot of different places). We initially moved to another small town and that move was not a good one. You have to pick your spot. It takes a bit of research.
      The down side for us is distance from family, but two of our children move regularly for work so we were never going to manage proximity to them for long. One is a one hour/$4.00 return train trip away and is able to drive to visit from time to time.

    • 0

      If your on unemployment benefits and move from an area of higher employment like the city, to an area of lower employment like rural or regional where rents are cheaper you can be penalised by Centrelink and loose your payments for 3 months.

      Plus a lot of people don’t have any savings to move to pay for the removalist, let alone the bond money for a new rental. Not to mention Real Estate agents not interested in leasing to people who are not in paid employment.

      It’s often not as simple as making better choices, as most people can’t make the choices that would make their lives easier.

    • 0

      Everyone has choices, Jacks. You sometimes have to be a bit creative to find solutions, which is why some folk get ahead despite all the hardship in the world and others, even with an easy run, go nowhere. If you expect the government to fix your woes, you’ll wallow in self-pity forever.

      I moved to the country several decades ago, unemployed, with nothing. It was hard, yes. But I looked at the long game. I have friends who moved to live for free on farms, with most of their food provided free, just for doing some very light handyman work. Another lives free in a cottage in an amusement park in return for locking gates at night and unlocking in the morning. Gets free power and water. If he wants a night off, he simply gets a friend to fill in for him. He’s on a single pension and has no assets or savings but is doing fine. Another friend bought a beat up caravan for $500 and sat in the pub asking for a local farmer to let him park on their land for free. Got four offers. Now he lives free with free power and water, free meat and eggs and some free vegies and all he does in return is feed the animals when the farmer and his wife go on holidays or away for the weekend. I know someone who lives above a factory – free accommodation in return for the extra security his presence delivers. Then he goes downstairs and does a few clean-up or delivery jobs for a few dollars cash-in-hand. The delivery jobs give him access to the company vehicle and he’s able to stop and buy things he needs while out.

      Most people CAN make the choices that will make their life easier, but think it’s easier to rely on Centrelink and whinge about government handouts being insufficient.

  4. 0

    I’m waiting until I know what the Morrison government is actually promising to do. Most of the current “leaks” are part of Scotty’s marketing strategy and are designed to promote a particular point of view, perhaps not very palatable to those who have retired or are unable to get a job in the current climate. When the budget is released and reality is revealed, perhaps those very people will think ” bad, but not as bad as I though it would be”. If indeed we do think that then the Morrison marketing strategy will have succeeded yet again, through promises rather than actual performance. If the budget promises anything for pensioners, I will believe it when the money hits my bank account.

    • 0

      It’s already been leaked that the budget will deliver two $250 payments to pensioners, Buggsie – one before Christmas and one after.

      I just wish there was a valid choice of government. Whilst ever we have the bad bad bad LNP and the much worse ALP to choose from, we’ll never solve any of this nation’s problems. Many minor parties have good ideas, but none can ever gain enough seats to make a difference – except perhaps the Greens, and they are a bigger disaster than either of the two majors.

    • 0

      The $250 payment is about $1.65 a day. But even the lowest taxpayer got a reduction of $50 per week or $7.40 per day. Shows how politicians think and act.

    • 0

      Actually, ozjames70, low to middle income taxpayers got very little. The figures were fudged. The claim of a big tax cut was all a fat lie. If you listened closely, the Treasurer referred to rates compared to 2018-9, so was double-counting tax cuts that were delivered a year ago.

      And BTW. SFRs got NOTHING AT ALL. I think pensioners should be grateful.

  5. 0

    What I object to is the companies that made record profits, due to internet shopping, were claiming Jobseeker payments for their staff.

  6. 0

    I agree about a pre age Pension totally as I don’t know how anyone female or male can survive on $550 a fortnight!
    I am on an aged pension and in Human service accomodation and I would be in dispair if not for the lower rental I pay!
    So how can anyone survive on $550 a fortnight?
    I don’t smoke, drink, gamble or eat out as I know I can not afford to!
    I know of someone that is at present aged 64 and trying to servive on this Dole as it is called and worked up till 8 months ago when all the closures. of Business happened and was let go because of her age as the kept a few younger ones then on Jobkeeper so now after having worked for 50 years or so you are let go like an old rag because they can keep jounger ones at a lower wage!
    So now being on this amount for the first time ever, and first time ever on the handout in her life on this extra and suddenly they are going to drop it back to $550 a fortnight and will not be able to pay all her living cost on this!
    So yes I agree there should be a pre. Age pension the same as the age otherwise she has to survive on this lower amount for another 3 years untill eligable for the aged Pension like so many others have to wait!
    She would prefer to work but no one will employ her because of her age!

    • 0

      This is so incredibly sad, esp for your friend after contributing to the system for so long & so wrong it can happen here in “the lucky country” its a disgrace!
      I’d like to see her position swapped with these pollies, put her in their lifestyle (hell she’d certainly do a better job of it than them anyway) & give her their income & them hers, even for a year!

  7. 0

    Torry my last vomment is from Dotty
    And not Hottu.

  8. 0

    There used to be a “pre Age Pension” payment and it was called Mature Age Allowance and it seemed to work well.
    With the current reality of very little work available for older Australians, perhaps government could consider a reintroduction off similar payment. And have the payment rate somewhere between Jobseeker and Age Pension as well and an incentive to work to some capacity

  9. 0

    Catch 22… The more you give some people the more they feel they are entitled to it permanently. Those doing it tough do need to be looked after until the economy recovers.
    Unfortunately it is the ” Bludgers and Spivs ” out there who always take advantage of well meaning intentions for their own personal gain.

    • 0

      I agree with you, Baka, you’ve only to look at retired politicians who have been on huge pensions for decades but still have highly paid jobs, politicians on perks and expenses charging taxpayers for staying in accommodation their wives own, bureaucrats, ex judges and the list goes on.

  10. 0

    The government should bring back the mature age payment and drop all mutual obligations for over sixties who have been without a job for 12 months, as it is a total waste of money having an older person connected to a job service provider when there are no jobs available for them and the person does not want to be going through jobsearch only to be rejected a thousand times over. Many over sixties have chronic health conditions that make work difficult though this does not allow them to qualify for a disability pension. Young people need any jobs that are available. The government needs to ensure the young are employed and the old are supported in the correct way so we do not see an avalanche of suicides from young being jobless and the old being forced to feel used and spat out. Any older person should be able to opt in to a job service provider if they still feel capable of achieving employment. I am only advocating that they should not be forced to jobsearch when they feel like it is the same exercise as digging a hole and then just filling it in for no purpose at all other than to humiliate them.

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