Tom Gersbach dreads April 1.
That's the date the social justice representative for St Vincent de Paul in Wollongong expects the charity will be inundated with calls for emergency help when the JobSeeker rate is cut.
Although the federal government has committed to a permanent $50 per fortnight increase to the JobSeeker base rate, St Vincent de Paul and the Salvation Army both claimed the increase was inadequate.
Mr Gersbach said when the initial coronavirus supplement of $550 a week was introduced calls for help with food, electricity bills and rent in Wollongong dropped dramatically.
As the supplement has been wound back more people have come to the charity for help.
"It's very disappointing and frustrating that this is the position people looking for work find themselves in," he said.
"Last year in Wollongong 70 per cent of those seeking assistance needed help to afford food.
"Surely we could keep people receiving a benefit that at least meets the poverty line."
On Tuesday the federal government announced JobSeeker base rate for a single person with no children would rise from $565.70 to $615.70 a fortnight after March 31.
Job seekers will be required to conduct 20 job searches a month from July 1.
A new hotline will be established for employers to report people who refuse a job offer.
Job seeker recipients will be able to earn $150 a fortnight before they start to see a reduction in their payments.
In Australia, the poverty line is $457 per week for a single adult.
Under the increased payment JobSeeker recipients who are out of work would take home about $307 a week - $150 below the poverty line.
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"None of this will ease the struggle to make ends meet that people receiving JobSeeker constantly face," St Vincent de Paul Society NSW CEO, Jack de Groot, said.
"When people are struggling to afford the basics like food and rent, they do not have the money to spend on looking for work."
The Salvation Army has also called for the JobSeeker rate to be permanently raised by $150 per week, or $300 per fortnight.
"[Our] evidence, gathered from working with people reliant on the JobSeeker Payment and informed by economic analysis by third parties, is that an increase of $125 a week is the absolute minimum needed to allow Australians to live with frugal dignity," A Salvation Army spokesperson said.
"A permanent increase of $25 a week does not even begin to address the depths of disadvantage in Australia.
"We know from working directly with people on JobSeeker that on the current supplement (which amounts to $75 a week above the base rate) they are already struggling to afford basic needs."
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