Page 19 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 8 February 2022

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COVID-19 pandemic—disaster payments—petition 36-21

By Ms Berry, Acting Treasurer, dated 16 December 2021, in response to a petition lodged by Mr Braddock on 16 September 2021 concerning income support for recipients of commonwealth social welfare.

The response read as follows:

Dear Mr Duncan

Thank you for your letter of 16 September 2021 providing Petition No 36-21 lodged by Mr Andrew Braddock MLA, regarding income support for recipients of Commonwealth social welfare.

Over the last 20 years the ACT Government has made a significant contribution to ensuring Canberrans enjoy some of the highest living st9ndards anywhere in the world. However, there are many Canberrans on low and fixed incomes on whom cost of living pressures weigh more heavily. The current Commonwealth JobSeeker maximum payment is set at about $45 per day for single residents, almost half of the income of $83 per day as recommended in the petition.

Recently many Canberrans have needed greater assistance as a result of the compounding impacts of bushfire, smoke, hail and the COVID-19 pandemic. The ACT Government is continuing to use the tools at our disposal to foster a strong, fair, economic recovery from a pandemic induced economic downturn, while continuing to address the day-to-day costs and stresses that Canberrans are facing.

In 2021-22 the Territory is delivering a range of assistance for the households that need it most, including some temporary measures for those impacted by the ACT lockdown. This includes:

an additional $250 rebate to the low-income households receiving the Utilities Concession, to bring the total rebate to $1,000 for 2021-22;

a $50 increase to the pensioner rates rebate, to bring the ongoing rebate up to $750 a year;

offering a rates deferral to eligible homeowners experiencing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown interest-free for up to three months;

providing a land tax credit of up to $100 a week to landlords who provide rent relief between 1 August 2021 and 31 December 2021 to tenants impacted by COVID-19.

This assistance is on top of the temporary payments provided to support lockdown, isolation and quarantine requirements. The Commonwealth's COVID-19 Disaster Payments and Pandemic Leave Disaster Payments sought to support Australians who lost work/income, including social welfare recipients. The ACT hardship isolation payment is an additional support for the ACT households more likely to face barriers in accessing Commonwealth assistance.

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