Aussie millionaires claiming JobSeeker

 

EXCLUSIVE

Millionaires have been claiming the dole during the COVID-19 pandemic but are set to be kicked off JobSeeker this week under a tough new asset test.

The bizarre situation is the result of the decision to suspend the assets test six months ago as thousands of Australians were forced onto the dole queue.

But the act of generosity also allowed thousands of millionaires with substantial cash and assets to legally claim the $1115 fortnightly payment.

New figures obtained by news.com.au reveal that a stunning 3,600 millionaires did just that, rushing to claim unemployment benefits after the asset test was waived.

Because the family home is not included in the asset test, that means 3600 people with cash or assets including cars, boats and holiday houses exceeding $1 million were on welfare.

Lines of unemployed people outside Surry Hills Centrelink today as the COVID-19 pandemic causes massive job losses. Picture: Sam Ruttyn
Lines of unemployed people outside Surry Hills Centrelink today as the COVID-19 pandemic causes massive job losses. Picture: Sam Ruttyn


The assets thresholds will be reintroduced from Friday meaning that a single person can have up to $268,000 worth of assets on top of their home and still access payment.

Singles who do not own their own home can have up to $482,500 in assets and still access JobSeeker.

Around 800,000 Australians have claimed JobSeeker since March. An estimated 37,000 will no longer be eligible as their assets exceed the reintroduced limits above.

Minister Families and Social Services Anne Ruston told news.com.au the asset test will be back in force from Friday, September 25.

"The assets test is designed so that working age people with substantial assets (on top of their principal home and superannuation) use their own means to meet their living expenses before calling on taxpayers for support,'' she said.

"Means testing is a longstanding principle of the income support system because it ensures payments are targeted to those who need them most and helps ensure the taxpayer funded system is sustainable into the future."

Earlier, Minister Ruston confirmed an estimated 30,000 people will be affected by the reintroduction of asset limits.

"We're currently still in the process of contacting people. But my understanding is that there will be somewhere in the vicinity of 30,000 people who currently have assets in excess of the threshold,'' Senator Rushton told the ABC.

"Some of them who have assets significantly higher than the thresholds that existed prior to us going into the pandemic."

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Welfare payments were made more accessible as cities were shuttered during the pandemic. Picture: NewsWire/ David Crosling
Welfare payments were made more accessible as cities were shuttered during the pandemic. Picture: NewsWire/ David Crosling

 

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BIG JOBSEEKER CHANGES COMING

The asset testing limits are one of a host of changes that will come into effect Friday.

In good news for the vast majority of JobSeeker recipients, an estimated 190,000 people will now receive increased JobSeeker payments because you can now earn more without losing access.

Currently an individual can earn up to $1088 per fortnight before losing access to part-payment, but from Friday, it's possible to earn up to $1257 per fortnight before they are cut off.

However the reintroduction of the means test will also slash payments for some and kick others off JobSeeker entirely.

The liquid assets test will force new applicants who have more than $5000 saved for a rainy day to wait for up to 13 weeks to secure JobSeeker, Austudy and the Youth Allowance.

Cash-strapped workers who have applied for early access superannuation payouts worth up to $10,000 could be hit by the asset test which rises to $11,000 if you have children or a partner.

That means that anxious workers who have applied for the early release of their super but have now lost their jobs could be forced to wait longer.

 

The Morrison government has said there won’t be any changes to JobSeeker in the budget. NCA NewsWire/Joel Carrett
The Morrison government has said there won’t be any changes to JobSeeker in the budget. NCA NewsWire/Joel Carrett

PARTNER INCOME TEST ALSO CHANGED

Under the partner income test, anyone who has a husband, wife or partner that earns more than $80,000 a year will have their JobSeeker payments cancelled.

Recipients will also lose 27 cents for every dollar of JobSeeker that your partner earns above $1165 a fortnight.

Jobseekers will also be sent an SMS reminding them they need to update their assets estimates to Services Australia.

The asset test and means test changes are entirely separate to the previously announced plans to slash the coronavirus supplement by $300 a fortnight which will come into effect on the same day.

But the unemployed will also be allowed to earn more in part-time work to 'top up' their payments by up to $300.

Those changes will impact over one million Australians now on JobSeeker.

The $550 coronavirus supplement, which effectively doubled JobSeeker to $1115 a fortnight, will be reduced, taking the fortnightly rate down to $815.

The Morrison Government has confirmed it won't make any final decisions on the JobSeeker rate in the budget leaving families in limbo over the rate after Christmas.

The current extension of the coronavirus supplement lasts until December 31 and after that date the payment could be slashed again down to the original rate of just $550 a fortnight.

"What we are seeking to do is to wait until later in the year, when we've got a better understanding of what the impact of the changes this Friday are likely to have, and also getting a better understanding of the economic conditions at later in the year, particularly as those relate to the jobs market,'' Senator Ruston said.

"One thing I can assure all Australians, if elevated levels of temporary support are required post the end of this year, the Federal Government is committed to making sure they remain available to them. The other side of the equation is that, you know, we're also very, very focused about providing supports to business.

"By getting the economy running again, by getting businesses supported and operating again, they're the people that create the jobs so we can get Australians who find themselves unemployed back to work as quickly as possible."

 

Originally published as Aussie millionaires claiming JobSeeker


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