More than 10,000 people in the Newcastle local government area remain on unemployment and youth benefits more than six months after lockdowns ended.
Newcastle's Labor councillors have joined a chorus of support for permanently raising the level of the dole and youth allowance after JobSeeker supplements expire at the end of next month.
They will present a motion to fellow councillors on Tuesday calling on the federal government to permanently raise JobSeeker by between $185 and $275 a week.
"Prior to the $550 per fortnight increase in the JobSeeker payment in April 2020, the JobSeeker/NewStart rate had not been increased in real terms in 26 years," their motion reads.
They say recipients will return to living below the poverty line after the now $150-a-fortnight supplements end on March 31.
The motion quotes Services Australia data showing 10,481 Novocastrians were receiving unemployment or youth allowance payments in December, a 50 per cent increase on pre-COVID levels and only 1400 fewer than the 11,924 receiving the payments at the peak of lockdowns in May 2020.
The JobSeeker supplement provided $80.5 million in additional support in Newcastle LGA from April to December.
Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe, Business Council of Australia, the Grattan Institute and a host of welfare groups have called for a permanent rise in benefits.
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