Thousands of millionaires pocket JobSeeker

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Daniel McCulloch
(Australian Associated Press)

 

Thousands of millionaires have been claiming the dole throughout the coronavirus pandemic but are set to be kicked off later this week when the asset test returns.

The federal government suspended the test six months ago as thousands of Australians lost their jobs.

More than 800,000 have come onto the JobSeeker unemployment benefit since March.

At least 37,000 are expected to be kicked off the $1115 fortnightly payment when the asset test resumes.

Among them are about 3600 people with assets in excess of $1 million.

The asset test does not include the family home.

Singles who own their own home can have $268,000 worth of additional assets and access income support.

Singles who do not own their own home are allowed up to $482,500 in assets to still access payments.

The thresholds for couples are even higher.

Social Services Minister Anne Ruston confirmed the test would come back into force this Friday.

“The assets test is designed so working-age people with substantial assets – on top of their principal home and superannuation – use their own means to meet their living expenses before calling on taxpayers for support,” she told AAP.

“Means testing is a longstanding principle of the income support system because it ensures payments are targeted to those who need them most and helps ensure the taxpayer-funded system is sustainable into the future.”

Millions of unemployed Australians will have their welfare payments cut over the next week.

The coronavirus supplement paid to JobSeeker recipients is being slashed by $300 a fortnight.

JobKeeper wage subsidies are also being reduced.

With the support payments being scaled down, shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers wants to see a comprehensive jobs policy outlined in the upcoming federal budget.

“When we’re in the teeth of the worst recession in almost a century, it makes absolutely no sense for the Morrison government to be withdrawing support from the economy without a jobs plan to replace it,” he said.

“When Australians desperately need a jobs plan, all they’re getting from Scott Morrison is cuts to JobKeeper, cuts to JobSeeker, a freeze to the pension, less super, and less job security.”

More than 900,000 businesses employing 3.5 million people have been propped up by JobKeeper subsidies.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said more than 450,000 jobs had been restored in the past three months as the economy began to recover.

He expects businesses who have recovered to pay staff wages out of their income rather than taxpayer-funded support.

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