Youth allowance, Austudy and carer payments to rise 6.1% in biggest lift in decades

Young people, students and carers will receive the biggest boost to their social security payments in decades on New Year’s Day.

Payments will increase by 6.1% from 1 January for people receiving youth allowance, Austudy and carer payments. The increase is part of a routine adjustment to keep up with increases in the consumer prices index.

Amanda Rishworth, the social services minister, said the indexation increase would help to lessen the strain of increasing living costs.

“This will have a significant impact on the hip pockets of young people who are either studying, looking for work or receiving the Disability Support Pension if they are under 21 and don’t have children,” Rishworth said.

Youth allowance recipients will see the largest indexation increase to their payment since it began in 1998.

The youth allowance payment will increase by between $19.10 and $41.40 a fortnight, depending on their situation. Austudy recipients will see a rise of between $32.40 and $41.40 a fortnight.

People receiving the disability support pension who are under 21 and without children will receive payment increases of between $27.40 and $40.70 a fortnight, including the youth disability supplement.

Rates of the Abstudy and assistance for isolated children payments will also increase, as will the carer allowance, mobility allowance, double orphan pension and pharmaceutical allowance.

“With the cost of living increasing, we need to ensure students and young people can cover basic costs while focusing on their studies and career aspirations,” Rishworth said.

Other payments such as jobseeker and the parenting payment are indexed biannually and will be reviewed in March.

Cassandra Goldie, the chief executive of the Australian Council of Social Services, said the payments were still too low.

“Indexation does not deliver the real increase in income support that so many desperately need because these payments were totally inadequate before the prices of food, rent, medicines, fuel, and other essentials rose.”

She said the the routine indexation of youth allowance and Austudy only occurs once a year, in January. “This is a key reason why Youth Allowance is so much lower than JobSeeker.”

The rate of jobseeker is currently $668.40 a fortnight if you are single with no children, while youth allowance is $313.80 for those living at home and $530.40 if living independently.

The maximum rate of rent assistance, which is provided in addition to a range of payments, is $73 a week. But it is lower for those who share rent – just $50 a week, Goldie said.

Anglicare’s rental snapshots repeatedly show there are zero affordable rentals for people on youth allowance.

“The federal government must urgently lift income support payments including Youth Allowance to at least $73 a day so that everyone can cover the basics,” Goldie said.