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Ending welfare schemes could cost 145,000 jobs in Australia

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Ending pandemic-boosted welfare schemes in Australia could see the economy lose A$31.3 billion ($22 billion) and 145,000 jobs over the next two years, a new report by Deloitte Access Economics revealed on Tuesday.

JobSeeker unemployment benefits have been doubled since March to combat the economic effect of the health crisis, reports Xinhua news agency.

However, the supplement is scheduled to fall from A$550 to A$250 a fortnight from September 25.

Commissioned by the Australian Council of Social Service, Deloitte’s analysis found winding back the supplement this month and then removing it in December could reduce the size of the economy by A$31.3 billion over the next two years.

Meanwhile, reversing JobSeeker payment to pre-pandemic levels could see an average loss of 145,000 full-time equivalent jobs.

Deloitte Access Economics Partner Nicki Hutley said every dollar that the government invested in JobSeeker was generating a significant economic return, helping to pave the road out of recession.

“Providing people without paid work with enough to get by is highly effective economic stimulus, as they have little choice but to spend straight away on essentials,” she said.

“People on higher incomes have the option of saving, which many are doing right now given the uncertainty of the pandemic. This is why other measures, such as income tax cuts, would not be as effective in getting us out of this recession.”

Australian Council of Social Service CEO Cassandra Goldie called on the government to extend the existing supplement and move quickly to legislate a permanent, adequate JobSeeker rate.

“There are a lot of things that are not in our control in this pandemic but one thing that the Government does have control over is ensuring that everyone has enough to cover the basics of life, including a safe place to live.”

A total of 26,692 Covid-19 cases have been reported in Australia, while the national death toll stood at 816.

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