Response to COVID-19: JobSeeker Payment
The new JobSeeker Payment started on 20 March 2020 and is now the main income support payment if you are between 22 and Age Pension age. The JobSeeker payment is subject to an income test and is available to:
- employees stood down or let go;
- sole traders, self employed, casual workers and contract workers who’s income has been effected as a result of the economic downturn due to the Coronavirus; and
- those caring for someone who’s affected by the Coronavirus
The following payments will be either stopped or closed to new claims: Newstart Allowance, Sickness Allowance, Wife Pension, Widow B Pension and Bereavement Allowance and be replaced by the JobSeeker payment.
Response to COVID-19: Support for Individuals and Households
- Income support for individuals – a temporary Coronavirus Supplement of $550 per fortnight will be paid to new or existing recipients of JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance JobSeeker, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit and some others from 27 April 2020.
- There are two separate $750 Payments to support households – the so called Economic Stimulus or Economic Support payments – for social security, veteran and other income support recipients. The second payment will not be made to those eligible for the Coronavirus Supplement.
- If you are eligible for the Coronavirus Supplement or the Economic Support payments, these will automatically be paid to you – there is no need to contact Centrelink
Response to COVID-19: Help with Energy Bills
Some energy retailers have announced the customers who are in their hardship programs will not be disconnected if they are unable to afford their energy bills. Further information about this plus information about managing energy use can be found here.
Response to COVID-19: Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package payment
From 6 April, until 30 June 2020, families will not be charged a fee for child care, including an out of pocket fee or a gap fee. Instead child care centres will receive Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package payments and these will replace the usual Child Care Subsidy and Additional Child Care Subsidy payments. More information can be found here.
Response to COVID-19 : Residential Assistance for Living Costs
You may be eligible for a grant of 4 weeks’ rent, up to a maximum of $2,000 if you have lost your job and are facing financial hardship due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The grant is available from 1 May 2020 if you have applied to Centrelink for support, have less than $10,000 savings and are still paying at least 25% of your income in rent. Further information can be found at the Consumer Protection website.
Contacting your provider
If you're having trouble paying bills the first thing you should do is contact your provider. Most companies have hardship officers who can help you work out a plan to pay your bills in instalments. Some useful sources of information are:
Hardship Utilities Grant Scheme (HUGS)
HUGS provides a one off grant to help Western Australians experiencing financial hardship who are at risk of having their utilities disconnected. The maximum grant per applicant is $581 (or $962 for those living north of the 26th Parallel – approximately Shark Bay on the Western Australian coast). More information can be found at the Hardship Utilities Grant Scheme webpage.
Dependent Child Electricity Rebate
This provides assistance to eligible concession card holders with dependent children to meet electricity costs. The rebate is calculated according to the number of dependent children on your concession card. More information can be found at the Dependent Child Electricity Rebate webpage.
Further information on how banks can help can be found at 1b. How can your bank or financial advisor help when you are preparing to leave?
Department of Housing rental assistance whilst in a refugeTOP
If you rent a Department of Housing home and need to stay at Women's Refuge you can put in an application for the “absentee minimum rent” of $10 per week for up to 3 months. Contact the Housing Authority on 1800 093 325.
No and Low Interest LoansTOP
There are a number of organisations that offer a range of low cost loans and other services including:
- No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) offers loans without interest up to $1,500 for essentials, goods and services such as white-goods, furniture, and education expenses.
- StepUP Loans are available for amounts of between $800 and $3,000. Whilst this loan does charge interest, the rate is lower than many other options, you have three years to pay it back and there are no fees.
NILS and StepUP Loans provide a safe and affordable alternative to high cost finance options such as payday loans or “rent to buy” plans which can promise fast cash but may end up worsening financial difficulties.
To be eligible for NILS you must have a healthcare or pension card, earn under $45,000, have lived in your current residence for 3 months and have a willingness and capacity to repay the loan. There are no credit checks.
To be eligible for a StepUP loan you need to have a Health Care or Pension Card or qualify for Family Tax Benefit A, and have lived at your current address for three months. As StepUP loans are bank loans, they require a credit check.
NILS and StepUP loans cannot be used for cash, holidays or paying bills like rent.