Charities prepare for JobSeeker centrelink payments to be cut

PREPARATION: St Vincent de Paul Wagga Central Council president Peter Burgess is anticipating increased demand. Picture: Emma Hillier
PREPARATION: St Vincent de Paul Wagga Central Council president Peter Burgess is anticipating increased demand. Picture: Emma Hillier

Australian charities are bracing for a wave of clients when welfare payments are cut further in a fortnight.

Individuals who receive basic JobSeeker payments will see these reduce to about $815 a fortnight from September 28.

St Vincent de Paul Wagga Central Council president Peter Burgess said his organisation was anticipating a surge in clients seeking help for the very first time.

"Hopefully it's not Armageddon ... We're still dealing with drought, we're still dealing with fires, and now we've got this," he said.

At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government's JobSeeker scheme effectively doubled the Centrelink Newstart allowance to $1100 a fortnight.

The coronavirus supplement which provided the boost will be cut from $550 a fortnight to $250 in 12 days from now.

Mr Burgess said the extra money had been a welcome relief for his regular clients, who needed much less assistance than usual.

"It was very quiet ... Where we would normally deal with 40 cases a week, we were dealing with four or five. Some days nobody would come here," he said.

"Our regular clients were doing OK, really. I had contact with them and they were like, 'Wow, I have this money for the first time. I can pay off bills. I can register the car.'"

But Mr Burgess said "about a third" of their clients in the earlier months of the pandemic were people who had never sought help.

Labor estimated in July that 8350 Riverina people were on JobSeeker payments and 1375 were on Youth Allowance, bringing an additional $4.6 million per fortnight into the electorate's economy.

The payment is due to go back to the original Newstart allowance of $40 a day in December.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has indicated his government will make further decisions about JobSeeker close to the end of the year.

"The government has to look at it and look at what it takes to survive in this society and give people some sort of sense of belonging," Mr Burgess said.

"You don't belong if you're on $40 a day."

This story First drought, then fire, now COVID-19: charities on alert first appeared on The Daily Advertiser.