FEDERAL Member for Wright, Scott Buchholz has said the Australian government is expanding the eligibility criteria for JobSeeker Payment to support sole traders and self-employed Australians who have had their income negatively affected by the economic impact of the coronavirus.
Before the current crisis, self-employed people trying to access social security payments had to be genuinely willing to seek and be available to take up alternative work, effectively requiring their business to close.
If a sole trader remained committed to continuing with their business then they were not considered unemployed and could not access payments.
"We are not going to leave sole traders behind," Mr Buchholz said.
"They're a critical part of the local economy. Chances are, if you're hiring a plumber or painter - if you have someone doing your books from their home, or they repair your computer - they're likely a sole trader.
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Mr Buchholz said the rules had been temporarily changed to adapt to the evolving coronavirus situation.
"I encourage all sole traders, keep your phones on and doors open," he said. There is a light at the end of this very, very dark tunnel.
"Don't shut down if you don't have to. If you're able - stay open, keep operating and access the income support payments should you need to.".
Mr Buchholz said under the temporary arrangements a range of JobSeeker Payment eligibility criteria had been relaxed including waiving the assets test and liquid assets waiting period.
"This change means sole traders that have taken a financial hit, can now get online or phone 132 850, access JobSeeker payment and the $550 fortnightly coronavirus supplement," he said.
"I know many of you will have never had to seek government assistance before. But this is not the time to hesitate - we want to make sure you have food on the table, a roof over your head and that you're able to get back to business when this is over.
"Our absolute commitment is ensuring Australians get through the coming months - they will be difficult - but we will get through it and we must make sure we support workers, households, business owners and sole traders so we can all bounce back.".
For more information go to dss.gov.au/about-the-department/coronavirus-information- and-support