Finance Welfare Morrison to wait a month before moving on JobKeeper review

Morrison to wait a month before moving on JobKeeper review

jobkeeper review scott morrison
JobKeeper did save jobs, no doubt about it. But it also opened a treasure trove of taxpayer dollars to corporate pillagers.  Photo: AAP
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Scott Morrison is to receive a report into coronavirus dole payments and wage subsidies, but will wait a month before making any changes.

The Prime Minister will see Treasury’s completed review of the JobSeeker and JobKeeper supports for the first time on Monday.

There are growing calls to expand access to the pandemic payments and sustain them beyond September, when both are legislated to finish.

Mr Morrison has promised there will be a “next phase” of economic supports, but said complex decisions were required first.

“There’s still a lot of work to do there and that’s what we’re focused on,” he said on Monday.

“There are many moving parts in this, this is not a simple issue.”

Labor has accused the government of sitting on the Treasury report until after this weekend’s byelection in Eden-Monaro.

Mr Morrison said JobKeeper wage subsidies had a “cash burn” of almost $11 billion a month and were not sustainable in the long term.

He is looking to re-angle supports towards industries hardest hit by coronavirus and withdraw it from companies quicker to recover.

The JobSeeker unemployment benefit has been doubled during the pandemic and there are calls to lock in a permanent increase.

There were reports at the weekend that JobSeeker will rise by $75 a week permanently. But Social Services Minister Anne Ruston described them as “factually incorrect”.

Before the pandemic, the Morrison government had consistently refused to lift the unemployment benefit from the $40 daily rate, despite widespread calls, including from former PM John Howard.

Mr Morrison said on Monday he was worried the inflated rate for unemployment payments has become an impediment to people going to work.

“We are getting a lot of anecdotal feedback from small businesses and large businesses, where some of them are finding it hard to get people to come and take the shifts because they’re on these higher levels of payment,” he told 2GB radio.

The Grattan Institute wants JobSeeker permanently increased by at least $100 a week, extended to more people and benchmarked to wages.

The think-tank also wants households to receive direct cash under a new coronavirus recovery plan.

The institute has warned against withdrawing fiscal support too soon, echoing an early caution from the International Monetary Fund.

Instead, it has recommended the federal government spend between $70 billion and $90 billion on extra economic stimulus measures.

Grattan also encouraged the government to introduce a higher, simpler, means-tested childcare subsidy that would cover 95 per cent of costs for low-income families and boost female workforce participation.

It wants JobKeeper wage subsidies extended into 2021 and ineligible arts, university and tourism workers to be included.

As well, the institute has called for governments to spend up to $40 billion on services, small infrastructure projects and social housing.

A separate report by analytics firms illion and AlphaBeta has found low-income earners have carried the economy through the crisis.

The data showed people earning less than $65,000 a year kept the economy propped up through discretionary and essential spending.

By contrast, the economic advisory group found high income-earners had kept their wallets sealed shut since the start of March.

-with AAP