The Sydney suburbs hit hardest by cuts to JobKeeper and JobSeeker

Sydney’s southern suburbs and northern beaches are among the city regions hardest hit by cuts to JobKeeper and JobSeeker.

A swath of neighbourhoods in Sydney’s outer west have also been disproportionately affected by the decision to wind back emergency income support programs in late September, an index tracking the financial impact of COVID-19 has revealed.

Cronulla café owner Doug Opai says his business has been "treading water.
Cronulla café owner Doug Opai says his business has been “treading water.Credit:Rhett Wyman/SMH

On the list of suburbs faring worse than most others were Cronulla, Bondi Beach and inner-city Pyrmont.

The COVID-19 Financial Impact Index developed by Taylor Fry, an analytics and actuarial consulting firm, shows financial conditions are most difficult in postcodes with a high proportion of people employed in hospitality, construction, freight and transport, and general retail.


Taylor Fry principal Alan Greenfield said changes to JobKeeper and JobSeeker had an “instant and dramatic” effect on Australian businesses and their employees.

“Some households are back to where they were in the first month or two of the pandemic, in terms of income and uncertainty,” he said.

Cronulla-Kurnell, which has a high share of workers on JobKeeper, was ranked among the five Sydney suburbs worst affected financially following the cuts to emergency income support.

Owner of cafe Cronulla Kitchen Doug Opai said the business “has been treading water” since the start of the pandemic.

“It’s been hard ever since COVID-19 started and general customer numbers dropped off, the payments definitely gave us a chance,” he said.

Mr Opai said changes to government support have made things a bit more challenging in recent weeks but he’s hoping an expected uptick in business as the weather gets warmer will make up for the cuts.

“Of course we’d love to have support for any amount of time while this continues but we keep moving, it’s not the same as it was this time last year but summer’s coming.”

Sydney’s hardest hit suburb financially was Warragamba-Silverdale in the far southwest followed by Alexandria-Beaconsfield in the city’s inner south.

The analysis reveals a band of high-income suburbs on the city’s northern beaches have been quite badly affected, including parts of the blue ribbon Liberal electorate of Mackellar.

Household finances have also worsened in suburbs around Botany Bay, which rely heavily on Sydney airport as a direct and indirect employer.

“In Sydney, the financial impact of the pandemic is felt across all walks of life,” Mr Greenfield said.

In late September the JobKeeper wages subsidy, which supports about 3.5 million workers, was cut from $1500 to $1200 a fortnight for those who worked more than 20 hours a week and to $750 a fortnight for other employees. The $550-a-fortnight coronavirus supplement for those on JobSeeker and some other welfare payments fell to $250 a fortnight around the same time.

The federal budget said the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme would cost $101 billion over 2019-20 and 2020-21.

Mr Greenfield said the reductions to income support programs meant Australian households now had $4 billion less in their hip pockets every month.

Chief executive of the Australian Council of Social Services, Cassandra Goldie said the results of the Financial Impact Index confirmed the Morrison Government has “knowingly plunged people into financial distress” with cuts to JobSeeker and JobKeeper.

“The real world impact of decisions made in Canberra is playing out across the country, including the Prime Minister’s own electorate,” she said.

The index showed household finances worsened nationally between September 26 and October 10, although the deterioration was most extreme in Victoria.

Among the financially hardest hit parts of NSW were Jindabyne in the Snowy mountains and Moree in the state’s far west.

with Anna Patty

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