Thousands of central Victorian welfare recipients will be worse off at the turn of the new year when the government's Coronavirus Supplement is reduced.
The fortnightly payment, made in addition to the base JobSeeker or Youth Allowance payment, had reduced from $750 when first introduced to $250 and will become $150 from January 1.
JobSeeker and Youth Allowance recipient data released by the Department of Social Services revealed residents of Bendigo, Kangaroo Flat, Golden Square, California Gully and Eaglehawk will be among the hardest hit central Victorian suburbs when the cut comes into effect.
In the Bendigo statistical area, up to $159,100 will be wiped off welfare payments per fortnight, according to DSS' November update.
Residents of California Gully and Eaglehawk will be $114,600 worse off, while those in Kangaroo Flat and Golden Square will see a collective $150,100 less in their bank accounts.
Anglicare Victoria regional director north central Michael Oerlemans said the organisation's financial counselling and wellbeing services are anticipating a surge in calls for help in 2021.
"The higher rate helped families pay off debt and that capacity is going to be significantly reduced next year," Mr Oerlemans said.
"The downstream impacts of this will be increased homelessness and more people seeking assistance for their mental health."
Bendigo MP Lisa Chesters said central Victorian jobseekers are anxious heading into the new year on a reduced payment and are concerned they'll be forced into poverty.
"The most recent JobSeeker numbers for the Bendigo electorate don't point to a comeback like the Treasurer is claiming, they are slightly down from last month but still almost double the number of locals are on the payment compared to this time last year," Ms Chesters said.
Last November, 9762 people in the Bendigo electorate received a JobSeeker or Youth Allowance payment, while 5783 people received the payments in December 2019.
From January 4, JobKeeper payments will reduce by up to $200, with more than 3000 Bendigonians in receipt of the payment.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the JobKeeper payments supported more than 3.6 million workers and about one million businesses with payments worth nearly $70 billion in the six months to the end of September.