The Federal Government's COVID-19 Disaster Payment will see eligible Australians receive financial support more in line with what was on offer through the now-defunct JobKeeper programme, following an upgrade of the emergency payments.
Announced today, the government has upped support to eligible workers who will now receive $750 per week if they lose 20 hours or more of work due to state government lockdown restrictions, while those who lose between eight and less than 20 hours will receive $450 per week.
The new level of payment for the top tranche of workers ($750 per week) is equivalent to what the Commonwealth previously offered through the JobKeeper programme.
That support, which ended earlier this year, saw the Federal Government support businesses and workers with a $1,500 per fortnight wage subsidy paid to employees via their employer.
The COVID-19 Disaster Payment differs from JobKeeper in that those eligible will receive the money directly from the Federal Government.
In addition, individuals who currently receive an income support payment (like JobSeeker or Youth Allowance) will receive an additional $200 on top of their existing payment if they can demonstrate they have lost more than eight hours of work and meet the other eligibility requirements for the Disaster Payment.
The upgrade to the Disaster Payment comes as the New South Wales state government announced further business support measures in light of the month-long extension of its COVID-19 lockdown.
"This new level of payment recognises the significant impact that the new COVID-19 Delta strain is having on communities, businesses and workers," the Federal Government said.
"The Commonwealth Government will provide financial support to those in a declared Commonwealth Hotspot. The provision of financial support outside of these areas will be provided where requested at the cost of state or territory governments."
The new rate will commence for payments processed in the week commencing 2 August and will be automatically updated for those already in the Services Australia system.
It will be available from day one of any potential lockdown in the future, with claims made from day eight in arrears for the previous seven days. A weekly payment will then be made for the duration of the hotspot declaration.
There will be no liquid assets test applied to eligibility for these payments and an individual does not need to use up their personal annual leave before making the claim.
"Our Government will continue to support Australians facing the economic consequences of extended lockdowns," the Federal Government said.
"The Commonwealth Government, through Services Australia, has processed more than 955,000 COVID Disaster Payment claims, paying out more than $490 million to workers in New South Wales and Victoria."
Updated at 3.13pm AEST on 28 July 2021.
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