Cutting Coronavirus Supplement will hurt at-risk Canberrans


Tens of thousands of Canberrans are set to be impacted by the Federal Government’s New Year’s Day cut to the Coronavirus Supplement, putting greater strain on local people who are already struggling to make ends meet.

More than 28,000 Canberrans who receive JobSeeker, Youth Allowance and other Commonwealth income support such as the Parenting Payment have also been receiving the Coronavirus Supplement of $250 per fortnight.

That income will be cut by $100 per fortnight from 1 January 2021, with no certainty about the future of the payment after the end of March.

“So much for putting 2020 behind us. Come New Years Day, we know life will be getting a bit harder for Canberrans who rely on this support,” said Emma Davidson, Minister responsible for Community Recovery.

Minister Davidson visited the Canberra Relief Network at EPIC this morning to meet staff and volunteers working to procure, pack and deliver food to Canberrans who continue to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Canberra Relief Network is a collaboration of community organisations funded through the ACT Government’s COVID stimulus package and has delivered food and hygiene hampers to more than 2,800 Canberra households since April.

“I want to reassure Canberrans who may be heading into the holidays dreading this Federal Government cut, that ACT Government support is still available," Minister Davidson said. 

“The Connect In Canberra website is the best place to start looking at how we might be able to help, whether you’re looking for work or have concerns about the mental health of someone dear to you.

“The ACT Government Assistance website also lists all the discounts, rebates and subsidies available all the time, not just during the COVID crisis, to help pay the bills and relieve cost of living pressures in areas like housing, transport, and healthcare.”

Housing ACT data shows more than 3,700 Housing ACT tenants will be affected by the cut to the Coronavirus Supplement, including more than 2,000 people who rely on JobSeeker, more than 400 people younger than 25 who are receiving Youth Allowance, and close to 1,000 parents who receive critical support through the Parenting Payment.

“As a society, we are facing the most serious threat to our living standards and overall wellbeing in 100 years,” Minister Davidson said. “We need to do everything we can to support people in need.

“It’s more critical now than ever that we embrace a robust social security system that doesn't leave people behind, unable to pay their bills or forcing them into homelessness. We need to ensure that those most at risk are supported during this unprecedented time.”

Minister for Homelessness and Housing Services, Rebecca Vassarotti, said the Federal Government’s cuts are particularly concerning for people who are at risk of homelessness.

“Many people in Canberra are struggling to afford to pay rent, and cutting income support puts these people under even more pressure,” Minister Vassarotti said.

“In Canberra we’ve seen rental prices remain steady despite the general economic downturn and the huge number of people who have lost work. This means the cuts will have a disproportionate impact on renters and low-income earners in the ACT.” 

At 27 November 2020, the Department of Social Services confirmed 28,139 Canberrans were receiving Commonwealth income support payments that included the Coronavirus Supplement.