Boosting support payments to help with cost-of-living pressures

The Albanese Labor Government is increasing working-age and student payments and Commonwealth Rent Assistance, as part of the Budget’s $14.6 billion cost-of-living package.

These increases are responsible and targeted to help vulnerable Australians under the pump.

Rates of JobSeeker, Youth Allowance, Parenting Payment (Partnered), Austudy, ABSTUDY, Youth Disability Support Pension, and Special Benefit will rise by $40 a fortnight. This will benefit around 1.1 million Australians.

We are also expanding eligibility for the existing higher rate of JobSeeker to single recipients aged 55 and over who have been on income support for nine or more continuous months, which currently applies from age 60.

The Government will provide additional support to renters, with the largest increase to Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA) in more than 30 years. The Budget will increase the maximum rates of this payment by 15 per cent.

The changes to working-age and student payments will help around 580,000 women, 318,000 young people (under 25), 150,000 First Nations Australians and 245,000 mature-aged Australians.

Two additional payments will also receive the $40 per fortnight boost, Farm Household Allowance and the Self-Employment Allowance.

Over the past ten years the proportion of mature-aged Australians on JobSeeker Payment has significantly increased. This cohort faces higher barriers to employment.

Evidence shows they are more likely to be long-term JobSeeker Payment recipients, with people aged 55 and over remaining on income support payments for 25 per cent longer than those aged between 21 and 54.

The majority of those who will benefit (55 per cent) from the expanded eligibility for the existing higher rate of JobSeeker to single recipients aged 55 and over are women.

For a single CRA recipient with no dependents, not sharing and receiving the maximum amount of rent assistance, it means their payment can increase from $157.20 a fortnight to $180.80.

The new rates will commence from 20 September 2023, subject to the passage of legislation. Further indexation of eligible payment rates will also take place as usual on 20 September.

Our responsible budget management ensures we can fund these targeted cost-of-living measures for vulnerable Australians.

The increases are part of a suite of measures Labor is delivering in the 2023-24 Budget, including the Energy Price Relief Plan, and historic investments in Medicare, which all work together to help ease cost-of-living pressures.

Quotes from Treasurer Jim Chalmers:

We’re delivering a modest increase in support to our most vulnerable because we know they’re doing it tough, and that’s possible thanks to the way we’ve responsibly managed the Budget.

Even with unemployment at historic lows, we know there are still people struggling to find work and struggling to get by.

People are under the pump which is why we've carefully calibrated and designed this Budget so that it takes pressure off the cost-of-living.

Our aim throughout – whether it's our cost-of-living package, our broader investments in energy or other efforts to grow the economy – is to make sure that this Budget is part of the solution to high inflation and cost-of-living pressures, not adding to the problem.

Quotes from Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth:

Getting more Australians into work remains Labor’s ultimate goal. But for those who are unable to support themselves, are studying or need additional help, our income support system is designed to be a safety net.

In this Budget, our changes to income support will help with cost-of-living pressures. They are responsible and targeted.

Increasing Rent Assistance is the Government’s most effective lever to quickly provide assistance to those payment recipients who are renting. For JobSeeker, Youth Allowance and other payments, our boost to rates is a responsible approach that will help all recipients on the payments.

The Albanese Labor Government will always strive to do more to help Australians in need and we will keep assessing income support budget-to-budget as we said we would.