Coronavirus Supplement cuts at end of September risk plunging more than one million children into poverty

Anti-Poverty Week

Anti-Poverty Week today said the Coronavirus Supplement is protecting more than one million children from poverty and must remain in place until payments are permanently increased above the poverty line. Executive Director of Anti-Poverty Week Toni Wren said, The Supplement is protecting more than one in five of all Australian children living in families who were previously unemployed, under-employed or have become unemployed since the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

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Ms Wren said it is also supporting the local communities these families live in – to the tune of $633 million per week. The Federal Government’s cut of $150 a week starting from 25 September will mean $336 million a week will be taken out of these economies.
“We know that growing up in poverty impacts the hopes and dreams of young people and has deep impacts on learning at school, physical and mental health. Now is not the time to cut payments – we’re facing a long, deep recession and there are real concerns that many thousands of people will be unable to pay rent or mortgages and be plunged into homelessness and poverty.
Anglicare Australia’s special Rental Affordability Snapshot released last week shows rents at the low end of the market have actually increased and that the Supplement is the only thing helping people keep a roof over their heads.
Results from a survey of some of Australia’s poorest families receiving the Federal Government’s Coronavirus Supplement of $550 per fortnight finds many are “dreading” the impact of the cut.
More than 630 recipients have now responded to a survey undertaken by the National Council for Single Mothers and their Child as part of their 550 Reasons to Smile campaign. NCSMC CEO Terese Edwards said: “the supplement is helping women get the bond together to leave a situation of domestic violence, buy a family computer so kids can home school, put healthy food on the table three times a day and make it possible to repair cars and pay for other essentials like regular medication.” It shows:
Ninety-four percent of respondents said it was either critical (76.5%) or very important (17.5%) to keep the coronavirus supplement of $550 per fortnight.
“When the $550 ends I dread living like before again. I dread the kids going without. I dread the hunger, and fear of homelessness.”
“I lost my job through no fault of my own through covid lockdown and will not get be getting it back unfortunately… without the CVS I would not be able to afford everyday living expenses and I am concerned about what will happen when it finishes…”
The Supplement has provided hope, health and improved their mental health.
• Nearly 9 in 10 (88%) said it reduced stress and anxiety as we can pay our household bills
• Nearly 7 in 10 (69%) said our family is healthier due to having enough food to eat and healthier options
• Nearly 2 in 3 (64%) say they are sleeping better, not waking up due to money stress
• Over half (53%) said they can stay healthier as we can stay warm in winter and cool in summer.
“I think the $550 supplement should stay on because it removes the stress of living fortnight to fortnight wondering if you’re going to have enough money to pay your bills or put food on the table there has been times that I myself have gone days without a meal so my child could eat and I could afford the utility bills.”
The survey found the families are overwhelmingly spending the extra money on groceries, heating and cooling their home, keeping their car on the road, clothing and health related purchases.
• More than three quarters of respondents (79%) said they spent the Supplement on groceries;
• More than half (56%) used it for heating and cooling their home and paying energy bills.
• More than half (51%) said it helped them keep their car on the road
• Nearly half (49%) used it for health related purchases such as attending appointments, getting scripts filled and for prescriptions glasses.
• More than 2 in 5 (45%) said they bought clothing.
“I was able to buy a new laptop which meant I could access better ways to build my business…My microwave had become rusty on the inside. I worried about using it. I have been able to buy a new one. I have been able to purchase a desk so my son can complete his studies. He used to sit on the floor.”
Note for editors:
– In addition to the updated results of the Coronavirus Supplement survey conducted by the National Council of Single Mothers & Their Children, Anti-Poverty Week has also today published Child Poverty in Australia Fast Fact 2020; a Map showing the number of children with a parent receiving the Coronavirus Supplement by State and Territory and a 30 second child poverty video (both available here); and a spreadsheet outlining the number of CVS recipients and impact of the cut by Federal Electorate (available here).
– Before the bushfires and COVID-19 two in five parents who relied on income support also worked part-time. Many of these, especially sole parents, will have lost their jobs involuntarily or given up part-time work due to the need to protect themselves or their children for exposure to the virus. Their chances of finding work again will be low as they compete with large numbers of people who have also become unemployed or lost hours.
– The number of people receiving unemployment payments has doubled to 1.6 million and the total number receiving the Coronavirus Supplement was more than 2.24 million adults and more than 1.1 million children on 26/6/20. This includes around half a million children living in a single parent family receiving Parenting Payment Single and half a million children who have a parent receiving the JobSeeker payment, the majority of whom will be a female single parent family with a youngest child aged over 8 years of age. See Senate Committee on COVID-19 Answers to Questions on Notice #174 and #269.
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