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COVID income support: analysis of income support in the COVID lockdowns in 2020 and 2021

Income support COVID-19 Economic depressions Welfare recipients Disease management Australia

This report analyses a range of interactive maps, prepared to provide the first geographic snapshot of people on income support payments who also received COVID-specific income support payments across the country in the first wave of the pandemic in 2020, the 'Alpha' wave. The maps also show those on the lowest income support payments during this year’s 2021 'Delta' wave, many of whom have not received any additional COVID income supports, in contrast to 2020.

Key findings:

  • From September 2019 (pre-pandemic) to October 2020 (during the peak of the 2020 Alpha wave), the number of people receiving the lowest income support payments like JobSeeker – those payments that were eligible for receipt of the Coronavirus supplement in 2020 – increased by 70% (from 1,307,601 to 2,221,000).
  • By September 2021, there were 1,661,000 people on those payments – an overall increase since September 2019 of 27%.
  • The areas (federal electorates) in which the number of people receiving these payments increased the most during 2020 were those already facing financial disadvantage, pre-pandemic.
  • Areas with higher incomes, the most advantaged pre-pandemic, had significantly lower absolute increases in the number of people needing to rely on income support, showing they were less economically affected, and have bounced back faster.
Related Information

Income support payments during COVID-19 in Australia - interactive maps https://povertyandinequality.acoss.org.au/covid_maps-2/

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Build Back Fairer Series, Report 1