Regional communities will be hit hardest by cuts to the coronavirus supplements with millions sucked out of the North Coast economy.
Regional communities will be hit hardest by cuts to the coronavirus supplements with millions sucked out of the North Coast economy.

Economic impact of JobSeeker cuts on North Coast revealed

THE North Coast region of NSW will be hit hardest by cuts to JobSeeker, a new report shows.

Prepared by Deloitte Access Economics for the Australian Council of Social Service, a report on the estimated economic impacts of lowering current levels of income support payments reveals that in the Page, Cowper and Lyne electorates there are more than 52,000 people receiving JobSeeker, Youth Allowance and Parenting Payment supplements, and the reduction of the coronavirus supplement is removing almost $8 million from the region's economies.

In the federal electorate of Page, the report shows there are currently 18,465 people receiving

JobSeeker, Youth Allowance and Parenting Payment, an increase of 50 per cent since

December 2019. Cutting the Coronavirus Supplement by $150 a week from September 25 is removing an estimated $2,769,750 a week from the local economy.

Further south in Cowper, there are currently 19,291 people on the same welfare payments, an increase of 52 per cent since December last year. The $150 reduction in payments has seen $2,893,650 a week taken out of the electorate's economy.

Analysis by Deloitte Access Economics show the removal of the Coronavirus Supplement would be equivalent to the loss of 843 jobs in Coffs Harbour, 598 jobs in the Clarence Valley, and 258 jobs in the Richmond Valley.

The report says regions which have traditionally relied on the tourism and service sectors for employment will be some of the hardest hit due to rapid job losses as visitor numbers have fallen.

"Delivering a permanent and adequate increase to the JobSeeker payment is one of the most effective ways to inject dollars into regional communities" ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said.

"The old Newstart rate was effectively doubled when the Federal Government brought in the temporary Coronavirus Supplement in March. At the same time, the name of the payment was changed from Newstart to JobSeeker. The Government cut the Coronavirus Supplement on September 25, reducing incomes of people on JobSeeker by $300 per fortnight.

"Unless the Government steps in, the supplement will be removed entirely at the end of December, sending the incomes of people on JobSeeker down to the appallingly low old Newstart rate of just $40 per day."

Deloitte Access Economics Partner Nicki Hutley said the analysis reveals the harsh impact the withdrawal of financial support would have on welfare recipients.

"Our analysis clearly shows that the Government's plans to reduce income support would set back the economy even further," she said.

"We also know that this would take a serious toll on the wellbeing of millions of people who are without paid work, especially those in regional communities."

Dr Cassandra Goldie said the doubling of Newstart at the start of the pandemic came as a huge relief after 26 years without a real increase to Newstart.

"People without paid work were finally able to afford the basics but they now face a deeply uncertain future, with these devastating cuts to their already tight budgets and 28 people receiving JobSeeker for every job vacancy in regional areas," she said.

"We're calling on the Government to move quickly to legislate a permanent, adequate JobSeeker rate that means people can cover the basics."

Page MP Kevin Hogan said the Federal Government has the balance right following recent changes to JobKeeper payments.

Mr Hogan said the changes were about trying to find a balance which worked for all interested parties.

"It's a very delicate balance, there are genuine people that don't have a job right now - that did have a job - because their employer or business was affected by COVID and we want to help them so we've extended the JobKeeper payment.

"We have lowered it a fraction, because on the other side of this, there are many employers who can't get employees at the moment because of JobKeeper … I am talking too many employers who can't get people to come to work or can't find people to come to work."