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WELFARE BENEFITS AND EMPLOYMENT PROGRAMS - 2017 FEDERAL BUDGET

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

The Government will consolidate seven working age payments into a single Jobseeker payment.

The changes reflect the recommendations of the 2015 McClure welfare reform report.

The Budget provides $84.1 million over five years from 2016-17 to consolidate seven working age payments and allowances into a new JobSeeker Payment and to strengthen the participation requirements for job seekers, the Budget says.

 

Consolidation of working age payments

On 20 March 2020, Newstart Allowance and Sickness Allowance recipients will transition to the new JobSeeker Payment.

The JobSeeker Payment will be set at the same rate as Newstart Allowance and current mutual obligation exemptions for Sickness Allowance will be retained.

The Widow Allowance will be closed to new recipients from 1 January 2018 and will cease on 1 January 2022, when all remaining recipients have reached Age Pension eligibility age. Widow Allowees transferring to the Age Pension will receive a higher payment rate.

The Partner Allowance, which has been closed to new recipients since 20 September 2003, will cease on 1 January 2022, when all remaining recipients have reached the eligibility age for the higher payment Age Pension.

The Widow B Pension, which has been closed to new recipients since 20 March 1997, will cease on 20 March 2020. Recipients will transition to the Age Pension with no change to their payment rate.

The Wife Pension, which has been closed to new recipients since 1 July 1995, will cease on 20 March 2020. Most recipients will transition to the Age Pension or Carer Payment at the same payment rate. Australian residents who do not qualify for these payments will transition to the new JobSeeker Payment. Transitional arrangements will ensure that those who transfer to the JobSeeker Payment have their rates preserved; however, those aged under 55 will be required to meet mutual obligation requirements.

The Bereavement Allowance will be closed to new recipients from 20 March 2020 and will be replaced by the new JobSeeker Payment. Existing recipients of Bereavement Allowance will not be impacted by the change. Newly bereaved people on the new JobSeeker Payment will receive a triple payment in the first fortnight and current mutual obligation exemptions will be retained.

Eligibility for the Pensioner Concession Card and the Health Care Card will not be affected by the changes.

 

Work participation requirements

A new participation framework will apply from 20 September 2018. Key elements include aligning the participation requirements for recipients aged 30 to 49 with those for recipients under 30, and recipients aged 55 to 59 will only be able to meet up to half of their participation requirements through volunteering. Recipients aged between 60 and Age Pension age will have a new activity requirement of 10 hours per fortnight that can be met through volunteering. The current jobactive program will be enhanced to support both mature age and inexperienced job seekers to increase their chances of finding employment, including through a new Career Transition Assistance Program.

 

Liquid Assets Waiting Period

Savings of $138.5 million over four years from 2017-18 will be achieved by increasing from 13 weeks to 26 weeks the maximum Liquid Assets Waiting Period when a claimant’s liquid assets are equal to or exceed $18,000 for singles without dependants or $36,000 for couples and singles with dependants.

 

Click below to view source

Budget Paper 2 Part 2 Expenses Social Security page 145, 147, 148, 149, 150, 152, 159

Budget Paper 1 Statement 6, page 6-24

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