People in lockdown struggling to get by below the poverty line have shared their gruelling experience in a new report by the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), Locked out in lockdown, released last week.

Although the Federal Government has made available COVID Disaster Payments for people in lockdown, the policy excludes social security payment recipients, even though they have lost part-time paid work or are prevented from getting work. Many of them are living below the poverty line.

Of the 88 people living in lockdown in Greater Sydney who have shared their experience with ACOSS, 100% said they are struggling with the cost of living. More than half had lost paid work because of the lockdown, and about half said they are at risk of losing their homes.

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:

This is a public health issue – people can’t stay home in lockdown if they lose their home because they cannot afford to keep it.

The Government has set up a two-tier response, with people who lost more than 20 hours of paid work per week eligible for $600pw and those who lost less than that or lost their job before the lockdown forced to try to get by below the poverty line.

We need to immediately extend Disaster Payments to lift all incomes up to $600 per week, especially for those renting. When Federal Parliament returns, we need to fix social security arrangements for lockdowns to deliver an income floor for all. This would ensure everyone can cover the basics, including a roof overhead, to keep everyone safe. This means lifting social security payments above the poverty line: at least $475 per week (single rate), increasing Rent Assistance by 50%, and additional supplements for people with disability or chronic illness and single parents. Everyone needs to have at least enough when they lose their job, anytime, and anywhere.

Read the report

Comments are closed.