Subscribe to Money & Life

Covid19 crisis

Help with your finances during the COVID-19 pandemic

10 August 2020

Money & Life team

Money & Life contributors draw on their diverse range of experience to present you with insights and guidance that will help you manage your financial wellbeing, achieve your lifestyle goals and plan for your financial future.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Australia in 2020, the Federal Government has made financial support available to individuals, households and businesses. Here’s an update on the latest announcements on these economic stimulus measures. You can check back here for regular updates on what’s happening that could help you with your finances.

A huge number of people in Australia have experienced the financial impact of COVID-19. You, or someone in your family may have lost your job, or had your hours reduced. With the ongoing disruption to businesses, particularly in travel and hospitality, there are many employers who are struggling to keep going. And the introduction of Stage 4 restrictions in metropolitan Melbourne is likely to make things even more challenging for many of these business, both in Melbourne itself, across regional Victoria and throughout the country.

If you’re finding your finances are coming under pressure because you’ve lost some or all of your income, it’s important to know where you can get help. In March and April 2020, the Federal government made a series of announcements on economic stimulus measures, designed to help Australians with their household budget at this challenging time. These include extra Centrelink payments and other types of assistance, like the JobKeeper wage subsidy and early access to super.

Last month, the Federal Government announced an extension of some of these measures. Find out more about these changes and where you can get further information on whether you’re eligible for financial support.

The following information is correct as of Wednesday 12 August 2020:

JobKeeper extended to March 2021

JobKeeper has been an important safety net for many businesses experiencing a drop in revenue due to the economic impacts of COVID-19. Without these fortnightly payments they would struggle to keep their employees on the pay roll.

In an announcement on 21 July 2020, the Federal Government extended JobKeeper payments to 28 March 2021. Payments to eligible employers/employees will be made at the reduced rate of $1,200 per fortnight from 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021. Payments for eligible employees working less than 20 hours a week will be $750 per fortnight for this period.

From 4 January 2021 to 28 March 2021, the payment rates change to $1,000 per fortnight for eligible employees working 20 hours or more a week and $650 per fortnight for those working less than 20 hours a week.

Even if you’re not already receiving JobKeeper payments through your employer, you may still be eligible to receive these payments. Both you and the business you work for will need to meet the eligibility requirements. You may also be eligible for JobKeeper payments if you are self-employed.

Find out more: Extension of the JobKeeper Payment Fact Sheet

Coronavirus supplement

If you receive Centrelink payments and have been eligible for the Coronavirus supplement, you will continue to receive the supplement at a reduced rate of $250 per fortnight from 25 September to 31 December 2020.  The current rate for the supplement is $550 per fortnight and this will continue until 24 September 2020.

If you have recently lost your job, you can register with Centrelink  through the MyGov website for income support.

Find out more: Fact Sheet on Income Support for Individuals

Early withdrawal of super

If you are experiencing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be able to take money out of your super to help you meet your living costs.

Eligible Australia and New Zealand citizens and permanent residents can apply for an early withdrawal of up to $10,000 from their superfor the financial year ending 30 June 2021. The closing date for applications via the MyGov website has been extended from 24 September 2020 to 31 December 2020.

If your application is successful you do not have to pay tax on your early super access payments and it will not affect your Centrelink, Veterans’ Affairs or JobKeeper payments.

To be eligible for early release of super you must meet one of the following criteria:

  • you are unemployed; or
  • you are eligible to receive a job seeker payment, youth allowance for jobseekers, parenting payment (which includes the single and partnered payments), special benefit or farm household allowance; or
  • on or after 1 January 2020:
    you were made redundant; or
    your working hours were reduced by 20 per cent or more; or
  • if you are a sole trader — your business was suspended or there was a reduction in your turnover of 20 per cent or more.

Find out more: Early Access to Super Fact Sheet

Support for people in self-isolation

If you live in Victoria, are required to self-isolate and do not have enough sick leave, you will be eligible for a $1500 pandemic leave payment from the Federal Government. Applications for the payment are open from Wednesday 5 August.

The prime minister Scott Morrison has announced that the payment will also be made available to any other State that declares a state of disaster as Victoria has.

People self-isolating while awaiting a COVID-19 test result may be eligible for a $300 Coronavirus (COVID-19) Test Isolation Payment.

Find out more: Visit the Victoria State Government Health and Human Services website

Seeking advice on how to make the most of these financial assistance measures can help you feel less stressed at this challenging time. A CFP®professional can guide you through options to make your money last longer and secure your finances to bring you peace of mind. Find one today using Match My Planner.