The Australian Retailers Association has welcomed yesterday’s announcement by Prime Minister Scott Morrison to extend JobSeeker payments to March 2021, saying it will help support out-of-work Australians through the Christmas period.
Whilst acknowledging that the amount applicable from January 2021 is tapered from the current payments, the association’s CEO, Paul Zahra, said the extra support would help the most vulnerable Australians, whilst also aiding a retail recovery.
“This is great news for those Australians who are out of work in historically high numbers and also a win for our economy, with research consistently showing that every dollar of social security support returns at least 58 cents to our retail economy,” he stated.
Will boost Christmas shopping
“This is all part of a virtuous circle of economic recovery – with retail employing one in 10 Australians and every dollar spent in retail helping deliver income to a host of workers and suppliers.”
Zahra said the timing was good, as it allows those on JobSeeker to feel more confident to open their wallets for the all-important Christmas shopping season, which delivers up to two-thirds of all retail profits for the year.
“The [association] has consistently called for JobSeeker to be permanently extended. Providing a 3-month extension is a band aid on a social and economic wound that we need to address as a nation, however we are pleased that there is now more time to identify a permanent solution during this critical period in our recovery,” said Zahra.
The Federal Government confirmed yesterday it would extend the supplemented JobSeeker rate until the end of March at a reduced $715 per fortnight. It will also extend the coronavirus supplement payment on the JobSeeker unemployment benefit, also at a lower rate, for the same period.
Permanent JobKeeper rate for later
“Today’s announcement, to gear through changes to the JobSeeker payment as we are doing at the same time with JobKeeper, will see more and more businesses and Australians graduate from the economic supports that were so essential over these many months,” Morrison said.
The Prime Minister added that the Government would consider a new permanent JobSeeker rate “at a later time”.
“What we are focused on right now is the emergency measures that need to be in place for the pandemic,” he stated.