Big city suburbs and tourist towns will hurt the most in JobSeeker cut

Tourist regions, Melbourne's outer suburbs and western Sydney will take the biggest hit when the coronavirus supplement is cut by another $100 a fortnight from January 1.

The reduction in the payment means the 2 million people on JobSeeker unemployment benefits, Youth Allowance, parenting payments and other welfare will have a collective $205 million a fortnight less to spend.

In NSW, 594,652 people will have their supplements reduced from $250 a fortnight to $150 while in Victoria 524,599 people will receive lower payments. They will receive almost $112 million less each fortnight than they have been over the past three months.

An analysis of the location of welfare recipients by this masthead has found the northern part of Narre Warren has the highest proportion of its population on JobSeeker or Youth Allowance in Victoria, with 15.7 per cent cent. In Meadow Heights and the eastern Victorian town of Morwell, 14.9 per cent of people will have their payments cut.

Northern and western suburbs of Melbourne such as Broadmeadows, Sunshine, Werribee, King's Park and Roxburgh Park all have more than 10 per cent of their populations surviving on JobSeeker or Youth Allowance. Outside the city, Morwell and Moe, Bendigo, and Orbost are also experiencing high levels of welfare support. One of the hardest hit areas is the Upper Yarra Valley where of the near 200 residents almost one in five is on support.

In NSW, Fairfield in western Sydney has the highest proportion of people on the welfare payments, with 15.4 per cent. Mullumbimby near Byron Bay is next with 14.2 per cent of the population. In western NSW, 14.1 per cent of people in Walgett/Lightning Ridge and 13.7 per cent of those in Bourke receive the payments.

Western Sydney, Melbourne’s outer suburbs and tourist areas have the highest proportion of people on welfare payments who are set to lose $100 a fortnight from January 1.Credit:Kate Geraghty

The western Sydney areas of Fairfield, Liverpool and Bankstown all have more than 10 per cent of of their population living on JobSeeker or Youth Allowance. So do tourist destinations Byron Bay, Wyong and The Entrance and regional cities Tamworth, Lismore, Newcastle and the Illawarra region.

The coronavirus supplement was initially $550 a fortnight, effectively doubling the unemployment benefit at a time when hundreds of thousands more people found themselves on the dole queue. It was reduced to $250 a fortnight from September 25. The next step down, to $150 on January 1, is legislated to last until the end of March.

The hit comes at the time when unemployment is forecast to peak, with Treasury saying in the mid-year budget update it would reach 7.5 per cent in the March quarter and only drop to 6.25 per cent by the middle of 2022.

In November, there were 942,100 people unemployed with the jobless rate at 6.8 per cent.

Social services advocates and the government's political opponents have seized on the temporary increase to the unemployment payment to bolster their arguments its base rate should be increased from the current $40-a-day level. Social Services Minister Anne Ruston has repeatedly said the government will decide what happens to the payments after the end of March once it has a better understanding of what the economic conditions will be like at that time.

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