‘Pre-age pension’: New JobSeeker warning

JobSeeker payments are becoming the new "pre-age pension" as the number of older Australians signing up for the dole grows, a new report warns.

Parliamentary Budget Office analysis reveals the typical welfare recipient is now an older person rather than a younger man.

The reports also shows an increasing share of older Australians and women are relying on the payment for longer periods of time.

"JobSeeker appears to be functioning as a kind of pre-age pension payment for some older Australians," the report states.

"The share of recipients aged 60 and older also increased for both genders, with a larger rise among females."

Between 2007 and 2019, the share of recipients on JobSeeker for one year or more rose from 48 to 71 per cent for women and from 51 to 63 per cent for men.

One-third of women on JobSeeker and 29 per cent of men aged 55 and above had been on the payment for five or more years in June 2019.

Greens Senator Rachel Siewert says older women are retiring into poverty. Picture Gary Ramage
Greens Senator Rachel Siewert says older women are retiring into poverty. Picture Gary Ramage

The report expects this will increase government spending on welfare, irrespective of short-term fluctuations in unemployment, because of the gradual increase in the pension age to 67 years.

It also noted that there were "many more older women" on JobSeeker than are counted as unemployed.

This is understood to be a result of less stringent requirements on people over 54, compared with young people, to apply for jobs to receive the dole.

A rise in JobSeeker recipient numbers since COVID-19 has been driven by more men than women - despite females losing jobs and leaving the workforce at higher rates between March and June.

Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said: "We are looking at a crisis of older women retiring into poverty."

The Parliamentary Budget Office expects an increase in JobSeeker expenditure will be partially offset by savings from the eligibility changes of other income support payments.



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