How is a young university student stuck in Sydney’s lockdown expected to live on $231.25 a week?
By Jackie Pearson
That’s the full Youth Allowance for over-18s living away from home in Australia right now if your parents earnings are low enough for you to be entitled to receive it. Most young adults have a casual job in retail or hospitality to survive. It’s difficult to find a small bedroom to rent anywhere in Sydney for less than $350 a week, at least one that is safe and habitable.
Take their casual earnings away and these young adults cannot pay their rent or buy food and yet, they have been excluded from receiving the Federal Government’s COVID emergency payments in the current lockdown.
In fact, anyone receiving a Centrelink payment – aged pension, disability pension, jobseeker, youth allowance, abstudy is not entitled to COVID support.
This situation may have been OK when JobKeeper and the higher Centrelink payment rates were in place last year but it is not acceptable when the Federal Government’s permanent rates of Centrelink benefits push people below the poverty line at a time when they have no casual work available to supplement their meagre government support.
It is never OK for anyone attempting to survive who is unemployed.
The current situation is a perfect time to re-examine the need for a Universal Basic Income in Australia or to at least raise the rate of Centrelink payments to an above-the-poverty-line level permanently. Perhaps some of the companies that shared in the $63billion of JobKeeper payments when their earnings were not impacted by COVID could pay back the money they didn’t need to help kick off a UBI?
This executive summary from a Parliamentary Library paper published way back in 2016 explains the concept.
A universal basic income (UBI) is a payment made to all adult individuals that allows people to meet their basic needs. It is made without any work or activity tests, according to the Parliamentary Library paper.
“The idea of a universal basic income (UBI) is not new but until recently had been pushed to the fringes of policy debate,” the paper said. “UBI has returned to the policy agenda as the result of concerns about technological change. Some commentators argue that new technology will permanently reduce the demand for labour leading to job losses, stagnant incomes and worsening inequality.
“There are a number of different UBI models. These range from more modest schemes designed to simplify the existing social security system all the way to utopian plans to transform society. This paper illustrates the range by discussing a few of the many proposals made over the past century.
There are a number of common objections to UBI proposals. These include scepticism about the idea technological change will lead to widespread job destruction, concern about the high cost of a UBI, concern about the likely impact of a UBI on the economy, and concern that a UBI will undermine social solidarity and support for the social contract.
“Even if there little prospect of a UBI being introduced in the near future, debating UBI proposals helps draw out and clarify the differences in values and vision that shape social and economic policy.
Red the full paper here.