Majority back basic income to end poverty

Colin Brinsden
(Australian Associated Press)

 

More than three quarters of Australians believe there should be an unconditional basic income to keep people above the poverty line.

A survey conducted by social welfare peak body Anglicare Australia found two in five people of the 1000 polled said it would put them in a more secure financial position.

One in four said it would allow them to spend more time volunteering, while the same proportion said they could spend more time caring.

A slightly smaller number would seek to improve their skills and education.

Anglicare Australia executive director Kasy Chambers said many Australians had a form of basic income for the first time when the JobSeeker dole payment was lifted through the coronavirus supplement last year.

The JobKeeper wage subsidy also gave stability to people in insecure work.

“Lives were transformed, and hundreds of thousands of people were lifted out of poverty,” Ms Chambers said.

“Our study shows that a permanent basic income would lock in these benefits and bring many more.”

Both the coronavirus supplement and JobKeeper initiatives ended in March and at a time when the federal government thought the worst of the pandemic had passed.

The JobSeeker payment did see a tiny lift to $44 per day from $40 when the supplement ended, the first rise in some 25 years outside of inflation-linked increases.

The survey also found one in 10 would be able to reduce their paid work hours if there was a basic income.

“There are so many Australians who want to work more, but can’t get the hours they need,” Ms Chambers said.

“A basic income could create space for them by allowing others to work less.”

 

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