Available COVID-19 Financial Assistance in Australia
The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected many people in Australia and many industries had to shut down temporarily. Unfortunately, this has a great impact on the financial security of many citizens, who are now running out of funds because they cannot work.
Here are the available COVID-19 financial assistance in Australia and what you need to know about them.
What assistance is available?
The government has expanded the eligibility for most Australians so they can claim support easily. Qualified citizens receiving certain support payments will receive a temporary $550 coronavirus addition every two weeks from April 27, 2020.
These support payments include:
- Partner Allowance
- JobSeeker Payment
- Widow Allowance
- Youth Allowance
- ABSTUDY Living Allowance
- Sickness Allowance
- Special Benefit
- Farm Household Allowance
Crisis payments are also available for those who need to go in self-isolation and in hardship.
Eligible homeowners living in Australia can apply for the Economic Support Payments. The payments are done in two phases and each batch will be worth $750. The first payments were done between March 12 to April 13 while the next batch will be given out starting July 13.
To see if you are qualified for the payments, you can check the website of Services Australia for more details.
Child care assistance
The government will be paying for the child care fees to help families with their bills.
Early access to super (Retirement savings)
Eligible citizens will now be able to apply for early access to their super or their retirement fund up to $10,000 for 2019-2020 and 2020-2021.
To be eligible to super, you must be:
- You qualify for either JobSeeker support, youth allowance, parenting payment, farm household allowance or special benefit
- You must be either made redundant, have reduced work hours or have a suspended business or the business has a reduced turnover.
However, it is recommended that all options are considered before citizens consider their super.
Benefits for retirees
Reduction of the drawdown rate for account-based pensions and other similar products
For citizens with account-based pensions or other similar services, they will be able to enjoy a reduced drawdown rate for the years 2019-2020 and 2020-2021. This will reduce the necessity to sell your investments to meet the minimum drawdown.
To find out the new drawdown rates, you can check the website of The Treasury.
New rates for income support and Age Pension
Meanwhile, the government has also changed the deeming rates since May 1, 2020. The new upper deeming rate is now 2.25%, while the lower deeming rate is around 0.25%
Financial assistance for businesses
For businesses who are having financial troubles because of the pandemic, the Government can offer the following assistance programs:
- Eligible small and medium businesses, as well as non-profit groups who are hiring employees, can receive up to $100,000
- For businesses who do not wish to layoff their employees, they can apply for the JobKeeper Payment which would give them $1,500 every two weeks for the next 6 months to help them pay their employee’s salaries. Self-employed people can also benefit from this program.
- Temporary relief can be given to business in financial trouble
- They can receive up to $150,000 in write-offs for instant asset
- Receive up to 15-months worth of business investment benefits
- Get a subsidy up to 50% for trainee and apprentice wages for the next 9 months.
Every state and territory also have their own local business assistance programs which you can apply for.
To prevent businesses from laying off their employees during this time and help them pay their salaries despite their shortened work hours, they can apply for the JobKeeper Payment program.
Any business that qualifies for it can get up to $1,500 every two weeks for 6 months so they can pay their employees. Self-employed employees can also apply for the program.
Employees will be notified that they are getting the payment without having to pass any requirements. However, they must notify their employers if they have multiple employers, if they are not Australian citizens, and if they are recipients of income support payments.
Emergency and legal support
If you need emergency assistance for food, bills and housing, there are many groups who can help out.
First, you can call the National Debt Helpline for free. They can answer calls from Mondays to Fridays from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm and direct you to the right groups and organizations who can assist. They will also help you sort out your debts and how to pay them with your current financial capacity.
Aside from the helpline, you may also reach out to local charities and organizations for immediate support for food, bills and other costs. If you are ineligible for income support, Centrelink can assist by providing crisis and advance payments.
For housing, you may contact your state housing department to request for assistance.
For legal support, it is offered for free by reaching out to Legal Aid agencies or the National Association of Community Legal Centres.
Additional assistance per state or territory
If you need more assistance, you can reach out to your state or territory government. If you are worried about being eligible or have other concerns, local experts such as Debt Advisory Melbourne can also assist you.
During this pandemic, help is not in short supply especially now that everyone’s lives are put on halt because of it. If you need financial assistance, do not be afraid to seek help because it will definitely help lessen the stress you are feeling right now.