Student, 19, is forced to live off $20 a week after losing both his hospitality jobs during Covid – as he struggles to pay rent even with the government’s latest round of financial aid
- Sydney University student living off $20 a week with little government help
- The stipulations of the benefit scheme means he hardly has enough to cover rent
- Nineteen-year-old is disappointed by little help he is getting from government
A Sydney University student has been forced to live off $20 a week after the government’s financial Covid benefits left him with very little support.
The 19-year-old, whose identity has been withheld for privacy reasons, moved out of his parents house in February this year after landing a spot in the university’s Bachelor of Health Science degree.
He moved into a shared flat in the inner-city suburb of Rozelle and got two jobs, one as a waiter and the other as a bartender to support himself.
A young Sydney University student is living off just $20 per week due to the Covid-19 pandemic and government benefits (stock image)
He would work 20 hours a week to pay off his rent, which was $225 per week, and was only receiving $40 in benefits from the government’s youth allowance.
But when Covid hit his shifts all but stopped and a caveat in the $500 weekly Covid Disaster Payments meant that he wouldn’t receive any benefits.
Until this week, anyone already receiving government help was excluded from the Covid-19 supplement, meaning he was expected to survive on just $20 dollars.
‘I can’t go back to my parents because of lockdown, I can’t get benefits,’ the student told news.com.au.
‘Am I supposed to live on the streets?’
When lockdown was announced at the end of June, he was stood down immediately from both jobs.
‘I got the bad end of the stick with that one,’ he said. ‘I did have quite a bit of savings, there’s not much left.’
The young man’s distraught parents have been trying to send him money whenever they can but he doesn’t enjoy accepting the handouts.
His mother works part-time while his father mows lawns for a living.
On Wednesday the NSW government announced changes to their financial aid policies in light of the additional four weeks of lockdown for Sydneysiders.
Similar to Jobkeeper, eligible workers can receive $750 per week if they lose 20 hours or more of work while those that normally work less than 20 hours will get $450 a week.
People already receiving government support and who meet the other criteria can receive a $200 weekly lump sum through the Covid Disaster Payment.
‘This new level of payment recognises the significant impact that the new Covid-19 Delta strain is having on communities, businesses and workers,’ said Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, Senator Bridget McKenzie, Senator Anne Ruston and Senator Linda Reynolds in a joint media statement.
That means the young student will receive his youth allowance plus $200, still barely covering his rent.
The young student says he is disappointed but not surprised about how little the government is doing to help people in his position (stock image)
Although disappointed, the student says he isn’t surprised about how little help he is receiving.
He had been working at fast food chain Oporto at the start of 2020 when he quit to work in a bar.
However because he had only been working there for two months when Covid hit, he was ineligible for Jobkeeper.
He also couldn’t get Jobseeker because he was under the age of 22 and ended up having to return to Oporto for work.