Workers affected by state-imposed COVID-19 lockdown periods that last longer than a week may be eligible to take up a support payment from the Federal Government aimed at assisting those left without any income.
However, the temporary COVID disaster payment can only be taken up by those living pay cheque to pay cheque. People with liquid assets of $10,000 or greater are completely left out of the plan.
This implies aspirational homeowners who are still saving for their deposits will not receive this support, in contrast to some peers who already own homes and spent the equivalent savings on a deposit.
Announced today, the payment to be made on a week-by-week basis will be $500 for those who would ordinarily work more than 20 hours per week, or $325 for those who would work less than 20 hours in a seven-day period.
There are a number of caveats to the Commonwealth's plan; first, it only activates once state governments impose lockdown restrictions of more than seven days.
Further, it can only go to those living or working in an area deemed a 'hotspot' by the Federal Government's Chief Health Officer.
Under these restrictions, the support is expected to help many currently living under the Victorian Government's two-week COVID-19 lockdown in Greater Melbourne.
In addition, recipients must be an Australian resident or a holder of a visa class permitted to work in Australia, be engaged in paid employment immediately prior to the lockdown restrictions and have had their income impacted by state-imposed restrictions.
They must also self-declare that they would have worked during the relevant period of lockdown, that they have lost income during the period, and have insufficient leave entitlements to cover them. Applicants will not be required to take annual leave.
Those currently receiving Federal income support payments like JobSeeker are ineligible to claim under the proposed program.
"We're talking about someone getting through the next week, who would ordinarily be in an economic situation where every dollar counts," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
"Where those who have independent means of supporting themselves for a week, then I think they would agree that reaching out for Commonwealth taxpayer funded assistance is not something that we consider reasonable for such a short period of time."
Updated at 1.32pm AEST on 2 June 2021.
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