- The $4 billion JobMaker plan is supporting just 521 jobs, Treasury has revealed.
- Given it is just a fraction of the 10,000 expected, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said he would loosen the scheme’s eligibility requirements in order to enhance its impact.
- The scheme was intended to take on much of the heavy lifting from JobKeeper, as that wage subsidy scheme ends this week.
- Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.
As policymakers prepare to axe the successful JobKeeper wage subsidy, the Morrison government is struggling to get its new job program running.
Treasury has revealed that just 521 jobs are currently being supported by the JobMaker scheme, six weeks since its commencement, a far cry from the 10,000 roles forecast.
Costed at $4 billion, the federal government promised the scheme would deliver 450,000 jobs by the end of 2023, although even it has admitted such forecasts were fanciful. It is now back to the drawing board to rewrite the rules, having paid out just $800,000.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told the Australian Financial Review (AFR) that “given the take-up to date the government will examine its criteria and settings” ahead of its May budget as it tries to slash youth unemployment.
“The unemployment rate today for those under 35 is 8.5% compared to 4.2% for those 35 and above. It is precisely this challenge of getting younger people into work that is the motivation behind the JobMaker hiring credit,” Frydenberg said.
JobMaker eligibility to be loosened
In its current iteration, employers are eligible for $100 a week for every worker they hire between the ages of 30 and 35 and $200 for those under 30.
Hires must be made before October and must be hired in addition to, not in replacement of, other workers. Eligible workers then have their wages subsidised for 12 months, up to a maximum of $10,400 each.
While Frydenberg didn’t elaborate on which criteria could change, he was adamant that the 16-35 age bracket would remain. Instead, it’s understood that the eligibility criteria will be watered down to attract more businesses and boost payrolls.
Possible changes under consideration include the exclusivity clause that prevents companies from receiving both JobMaker alongside other subsidies and incentives, like if it is participating in apprenticeship training for example.
Another point of contention remains in its broader compatibility with JobKeeper. With businesses required to increase their headcount from last year in order to qualify for JobMaker, redundancies in the aftermath of JobKeeper will inevitably rule hard-hit businesses out of contention.
Anxiety over JobKeeper transition
At any rate, it’s hardly the start the federal government would have liked.
Both the Treasurer and Prime Minister have used the scheme to help justify the decision to cut their $90 billion JobKeeper program, due to expire at the end of the week.
With limited uptake and eligibility issues, it looks out of its depth to help out many of the 900,000 Australians still receiving JobKeeper payments.
Nor will it, in its current form, do much to create employment in sectors such as travel, tourism and education, which are still reeling from closed international borders and limited domestic mobility.
JobKeeper now has just six days left to run and there is still a good six weeks before the May budget is unveiled.
There are now real concerns that unemployment could slide in the interim.
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