JobSeeker to be extended until end of March

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Unemployed Australians will have the temporary coronavirus supplement extended into next year at a reduced rate under a federal government decision to increase the $16.8 billion payment.

The supplement will continue until March in a boost for JobSeeker recipients and others on income support, ending weeks of doubt over whether the payments would end as scheduled at Christmas.

A woman in her 40s or 50s is now more likely to be unemployed than a man in his 20s, a new report from the Parliamentary Budget Office shows.Credit:Kate Geraghty

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and cabinet ministers made the decision on Monday night and are expected to confirm it on Tuesday, with the rate likely to fall from $250 to $150 per fortnight.

The continued payments are likely to be welcomed but the move delays a bigger decision on the permanent rate for the JobSeeker allowance, which offers $565.70 a fortnight.

Australian Council of Social Service chief Cassandra Goldie has been calling on the government to increase the base rate to keep families out of poverty, but ministers have pushed that decision to next year.

Social Services Minister Anne Ruston said two months ago the government would decide any extension of the temporary supplement closer to Christmas.

"If further support is needed past December, then clearly we are open to that," Senator Ruston told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

"We have seen this coronavirus pandemic has thrown so many curve balls at us, not the least being the Victorian situation causing massive damage to the Victorian jobs market and to individuals and the community."

More to come.

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