A federal government stimulus meant to put 450,000 young people in work and help businesses hire has achieved 1% of that goal.
The $4 billion JobMaker hiring credit was designed to employ job seekers between 16 and 35 years old between early October 2020 and Wednesday last week.
It offered $200 a week to eligible businesses who employed someone aged 16-29 and $100 per week for those aged between 30-35.
But the scheme has only hired 5278 unique eligible employees as of September 6, with just 4081 employers benefiting from the scheme.
Despite concerns the figures may show recipients being counted twice, a Treasury Department spokeswoman told The Mandarin the ATO had confirmed “no individuals have been claimed by more than one employer for the same claim period where a payment has been made”.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said when announcing the scheme in October last year it was estimated to “support around 450,000 jobs for young people”.
Asked why take-up was low, treasury’s spokeswoman said the scheme was “a demand-driven program”.
The government made a variation in its last budget, forecasting the hiring credit to cost $93 million and be received by 10,000 people — a saving of $3.9 billion on the original pledge due to its low uptake.
Finance minister Simon Birmingham told a senate estimates committee in June that the scheme clearly did not have the take-up anticipated but was partly due to youth unemployment being at a 12-year low.
“The extent to which the employment market has recovered and jobs have been created is far faster than anticipated when this program was born,” he said.
Birmingham said some businesses had shown hesitance to apply for the scheme if they were profitable, believing it could lead to them being targeted, despite the program being established to boost job numbers.
Philippa Brown, a first assistant secretary in the Treasury Department, told the hearing that businesses had also said there were “very strong integrity features” in the scheme that made it complex for them to apply.
“There were a lot of safeguards in place to avoid discrimination against older employees and to ensure there wasn’t a windfall gain from employers engaging with the program. That meant it was necessary for them to provide quite detailed information to support their claim,” Brown said.
Payments under the scheme for eligible employees already hired will continue to occur until October 2022.