The federal government is focusing on welfare recipients who are capable to work but refuse jobs, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
For someone with at least $18,000 in the bank, the waiting period will increase to 26 weeks. Previously, the government had capped waiting periods at 13 weeks for anyone with $11,500 or more in liquid assets, or $23,000 for couples.
Social Services Minister Christian Porter said the increase was “to ensure job seekers remain self-reliant and focused on securing work before entering the welfare system”.
But the government may not get the support it needs in the Senate for the measure, due to come into effect from September 20 next year, with both Labor and the Greens hesitant to impose longer waiting periods on people who find themselves suddenly unemployed.
With plant closures in Victoria and the struggle to reinvigorate the mining sector in Queensland pointing to a shift in the economy, Labor’s Jenny Macklin said finding a new job for many workers could be more of a challenge than first thought.
“What this means is people who’ve worked and paid taxes their entire life will be forced to draw down on their savings before being eligible for income support,” she said.
The Greens are similarly uncertain, with Senator Rachel Siewert saying the party had “major concerns”.
“It is cruel to make people wait longer for income support, 26 weeks is a long time,” she said.
Budget 2017: Welfare waiting periods to increase for those with savings (Sydney Morning Herald)